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Experience the untold African story of the First World War

UNTOLD STORY: The Head & the Load looks specifically at the sacrifice of African porters in the war effort

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.

ENGAGING: William Kentridge’s work combines music, dance, film projections, mechanised sculptures and shadow play to create an imaginative landscape on an epic scale

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.”

Performances are at Tate Modern from 11 – 15 July 2018. Tickets are available from

PERFORMANCE: Kentridge's work is part of an arts programme marking the First World War Centenary.

2 for 1 tickets! Snap up a pair of tickets for the price of one. Simply visit and enter promo code VOICE241 at the checkout. *

*Offer limited and not available retrospectively or in conjunction with any other offer. Usual ticket price £20.

The Head & the Load is co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Commissions, Park Avenue Armory, and Ruhrtrienneale, with additional support from Holland Festival.

World premiere at Tate Modern in London, produced by THE OFFICE performing arts + film in association with Quarternairne.

The Head & the Load acknowledges the kind assistance of Marian Goodman Gallery, Goodman Gallery and Lia Rumma Gallery in this project.

Watch a trailer for The Head & the Load below:

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