History begins with the vanity of kings (2018)
  • Rafael Guendelman Hales | Taylor Prism at The British Museum.

  • 1. Studio production of the work. Photographs: Rafael Guendelman Hales. 2. Studio production of the work. Photographs: Rafael Guendelman Hales. 3. Interventions in the Middle East Room. Photographs: Ignacio Rivas. 4. Interventions in the Middle East Room. Photographs: Ignacio Rivas. 5. Interventions in the Middle East Room. Photographs: Ignacio Rivas. 6. Interventions in the Middle East Room. Photographs: Ignacio Rivas.
  • History begins with the vanity of kings (2018)
  • Rafael Guendelman Hales | Taylor Prism at The British Museum.
  • ‘To some degree, the histories of displaced objects are analogous to human displacements, migrations and exiles.’

    History begins with the vanity of kings is a replica of The Taylor Prism (691 BC) which was acquired by the British Museum in 1855. The text inscribed on the original prism details war campaigns said to have been brought by the Assyrian King Ashurbanipal against the kingdom of Judah and Israel. In Guendelman Hales’ version, this original text is in dialogue with two narratives from the same territory in modern-day Iraq: a text taken from Dabiq, an online magazine used by ISIS for Islamic radicalisation and recruitment, and extracts from George W. Bush’s address to the nation during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. 


    Rafael Guendelman Hales is an artist who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Universidad Catolica de Chile (PUC) and with a Master degree in Situated Practice at University College London. He has a diploma in Film Theory (PUC) on Contemporary Arab World at Universidad de Chile and has participated in the Art residency programs of  ZK/U in Berlin and Laznia in Gdansk, Poland. Rafael has received the National Art Funds of Chile (FONDART) several times; the Art Funding of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DIRAC) and the National Scholarship for Master Studies (CONICYT). His works have been exhibited in several art spaces and video festivals both in Chile and abroad.

    Rafael’s work focuses on the research of certain contexts and stories, and the relation of humans with their territory in constructing identities. In that sense, his projects are linked to both political and social processes, and to personal memories and marginal events; and the ways in which they can be narrated through art.

    More info:


    The insertion of new text into the Prism’s original shape works as a form of temporal montage that creates a sense of disruption. As Jane Rendell says in Art and Architecture (1), the type of operation that puts together ‘what has been and the now’ allows the creation of a space in between past and present, where the repressed historical aspects of objects and sites can emerge.


    (1) Jane Rendell, Art and Architecture, A Place Between (I.B Tauris. 2006).

    History, British Museum, Taylor Prism, Iraq, Bush, ISIS


    Michael Rakowitz, The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist (2018) (Art Installation/Site specific)

    Shelley Sacks, Project Exchange Values: Images of Invisible Lives (Ongoing project) (Art Research project)

    Hello World: Revising a Collection, exhibition, Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, 2018. (Art Exhibition/Project)

    Other projects
  • Signal/Noise: Ambient Text in the Urban Landscape (ongoing project)
  • Site Stories: explorations of urban spaces through drawing and animation (25–29 April 2022)
  • Rainbow Palace, Bergen, Norway (March 2022)
  •  Acanthus, (March 2022)
  • Unter der Hohen Brücke. 
digging in a ditch, writing for a place 
  • ‘Reading-writing alongside HALL08,’ HALL08 (2021)
  • Nothingness Beyond Blossom (2021)
  • Angelo Ciccaglione, ‘The back of the dust-machine, where the visitors pour the dust in,’ Rotterdam (2021)
    The Deposition of Dust (July 2021)
  • Skye Edge (April 2021)
  • Corvid-19 (15 March 2021)
  • 1_5
    Glòries_(Eixample). A dispositive for very slow aesthetic observation, (January 2021 –)
  • As Lightning to the Children Eased (January 2021)
  • Station F (October 2020)
  • It’s Just a Matter of Time (2020)
  • 1
    Inscription: the Journal of Material Text – Theory, Practice, History,
    issue # 1: ‘beginnings,’ (2020)
  • Homekeeping-image_sml
    Homekeeping (2020)
  • City Embers (2020)
  • Between Our Words I will Trace Your Presence (February 2020)
  • What Remains (2019)
  • Situated Writing as Theory and Method (2019)
  • Parts Apart Read Together (2019)
  • Fields of Awareness, (2019, 3min 18 secs)
  • A Non-Aligned Narrative in and Around KSEVT, (2019)
  • 21 Orientations: An Atlas of Geographic Promiscuity (2019)
  • The Windowless Hotel Room (2018)
  • Spaces of Grief (2018)
  • Soft Landing (2018)
  • Shared Remains (April 2018)
  • Poetic Water Boundaries: towards a possible borderless sea, (2018)
  • Metropolitan Salem, Liuerpul (9 June – 18 August 2018)
  • Things Come Apart (21 – 24 March 2018)
  • Learn to Read Differently (2018)
  • Il Balcone. A site-writing performance (2018)
  • History begins with the vanity of kings (2018)
  • Dear Mr. Jung: Inhabiting Carl Jung’s ‘The Red Book’ (May 2018)
  • A Lunar Perspective, (2018-2020)
  • Heaton Hall: A Palimpsest (2017)
  • Location (+) (2017)
  • There’s Sand in My Infinity Pool (2017)
  • Talking Quilts (April 2017)
  • fifteen ways to cross the desert (2017)
  • Between Landscape and Confinement: Situating the Writings of Mary Wollstonecraft (2017)
  • Agency at the threshold, (2017)
  • A Ficto-Historical Theory of the London Underground (2017)
  • The Glorious Tomb to the Memory of Nothing (2016)
  • The Arrival’s Reader; A Visual Literary Criticism on The Arrival by Shaun Tan (2016)
  • Reading as Art (27 August-19 November 2016)
  • Re: development (London: Silent Grid, 2016)
  • Kjemikerens død [The Death of the Chemist] (23 – 26 May 2016)
  • Kingsland High Street (2016)
  • Foray in a Modern Reserve: An Impounding Portrait of Landuse (2016 – 2018)
  • Fall of the Derwent (2016)
  • Away from Home – Home from Away (April 2016)
  • Penguin Pool (2015)
  • Geography Lessons: Liberian Landmarks 1953-2013 (2015)
  • Women’s Anarchist Nuisance Café (2014)
  • The Writing on the Wall (after Rembrandt) (2014)
  • The Italic I (2014)
  • Designing Architecture as a Performing-Ground (2014)
  • Urban Literacy (2013/2014/2016)
  • The Disappearance: Manfredo Tafuri’s The Sphere and the Labyrinth (April 2013)
  • Folded Ground: Escape from Cape Town (2013)
  • Phantom Railings (2012 – 2017)
  • In The Emptiness Between Them (2012)
  • 10/08/12 (multispecies event) (2012)
  • An Arcades Project (2011)
  • Tideline (2010-2012)
  • The Museum of Breath (2010)
  • Slab (2010)
  • One wound. Two wounds. The body as site for writing (2010)
  • The Fluid Pavement and Other Stories on Growing Old (2006)
  • Back to Top