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The Contemporary:

An Exhibition

Birkbeck, University of London, 2016

What is the contemporary? In this special exhibition, students on Birkbeck’s MA Contemporary Literature and Culture contemplate, through creative works, how they view, define, and reflect on contemporary life and culture. Asking questions like ‘what does the contemporary mean today?’ and ‘what does the contemporary involve?’, the students engage with art, film, poetry and artefact to explore these issues.

The exhibition features the work of five students.

Kathryn Butterworth and guest James Watkinson (Queen Mary) are proud to showcase Technological Translations – an exciting piece about how technology and literature can come together to exhibit 21st century ways of writing, reading, seeing, and hearing, and the new possibilities this offers for understanding literature.

Dylan Williams offers a reading of his original poetry: a series of short works written in response to the lived experience of contemporary London.

The fixed digital installation entitled Is It Just Me? will be screened by Dickon Edwards, who provides a witty meditation on social media, technology, and the paradox of the contemporary need to be original while still feeling part of the crowd.

Jassey Parmer presents her photography on hybridity in London shop fronts.

Director of the MA, Grace Halden, presents photography on ruination and remote warfare.

Exhibit Examples

Event Shots

Grace Halden's Exhibit Images: Ruination

Grace Halden's Exhibit Project: Radiation Mannequin

I have conducted research into the development of nuclear technology in the 20th Century. Alongside examining how nuclear weaponry significantly impacted 20th Century life, I have also researched nuclear power. As a cultural historian, I have investigated how society has reacted to nuclear developments and have spoken at length about nuclear 'ambivalence' during the Cold War years.


Radiation Mannequin reflects the pantomime of treating a radiation victim in a nuclear bunker.


In nuclear test villages mannequins melt.

Portfolio of nuclear photography available here

Portfolio of Radiation Mannequin is here.

Online Project here.

Grace Halden's Exhibit Project: Computer Line (c.1960)

Most of my research involves technology - how it is utilized, perceived and discussed. The lens through which I often explore ideas and reactions to technology is through fiction. I am particularly interested in the evolution of technology.


Computer Line (c1960) is part of my work on technological evolution from the early computer to drone technologies.


In an empty room a row of computers face the wall.

Please do not use images without my permission email

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