Holding Sway: Seaweeds and the Politics of Form

Melody Jue
UC Santa Barbara


Gwen Arkin

Bryony Kate Gillard
Artist and Curator
United Kingdom

Sam Nightingale
Artist and Scholar, Media and Communications
Goldsmiths College

Joe Riley
Artist and Scholar, Visual Arts
UC San Diego

Jen Rose Smith
Geography and American Indian Studies
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Jim Smith
Restoration Manager
Native Conservancy, Alaska

Maya Weeks
Artist and Scholar

Angela YT Chan
Artist and Curator
United Kingdom

Cecilia Åsberg
Prof. Dr Gender, Nature, and Culture
Linköping University

“Holding Sway: Seaweeds and the Politics of Form” is a series of photographic essays that stage a visual curiosity about seaweeds, connected to urgent matters such as militarization, gender, racialization, indigenous sovereignty, extractive regimes, and climate change. This issue of Foundry performs the important work of recasting seaweeds as more than nuisances (decaying on the beach) and more than purely beautiful objects (as forms of jewelry or pleasing images). Instead, essays situate seaweeds within a variety of political and cultural contexts, each making a visual argument for why it is important to consider seaweeds today. Participants are invited to create or curate images that literally and figuratively “hold sway,” which has a double meaning: capturing the attention of an audience, or conveying a relationship of touching/being in touch with seaweeds—holding their swaying botanical forms. Photography is an appropriate medium with which to engage with seaweed forms, given that camera sensors, film, and seaweed blades are all sensitive to ecologies of light. Participants will create or curate 5-10 images of their choice, and short written essays that give context to their selection.