‘Experience The Untold African Story Of The First World War’

Wednesday 11th – Sunday 15th July 2018 @ Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG

Tate Modern joins forces with 14-18 NOW the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, to commemorate the significant contribution of African men and women in this desperate conflict that took the lives of so many.

THE WORLD premiere of a new performance at Tate Modern will tell the neglected story of the millions of African porters and carriers who served British, French and German forces during the First World War.

The ‘Head & the Load’ is a new work conceived and directed by acclaimed South African artist William Kentridge. It is part of 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War Centenary.


This is Kentridge’s most ambitious project to date, and combines music, dance, film projections, mechanised sculptures and shadow play. It will take place in Tate Modern’s iconic Turbine Hall.

The Head & the Load sees Kentridge work with his longtime collaborator Philip Miller, one of South Africa’s leading composers, and choreographer and main dancer Gregor Maqoma. This rich performance features an international cast of singers, dancers and performers, many of whom come from South Africa, with Miller’s score performed live by New York-based chamber orchestra The Knights.

William Kentridge said: “The Head & the Load is about Africa and Africans in the First World War – that is to say about all the contradictions and paradoxes of colonialism that were heated and compressed by circumstances of the war. It is about historical incomprehension, inaudibility and invisibility. The colonial logic towards the black participants could be summed up by: ‘Lest their actions merit recognition, their deeds must not be recorded.’ The Head & the Load aims to recognise and record.”

£20 tickets are available from Tate Modern