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 conflict
The world premiere of this major new work is performed against the dramatic backdrop of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. William Kentridge’s latest project combines music, dance, film projections, mechanised sculptures and shadow play to create an imaginative landscape on an epic scale. It tells the untold story of the hundreds of thousands of African porters and carriers who served in British, French and German forces during the First World War.
One of South Africa’s leading composers, Philip Miller, and musical director Thuthuka Sibisi create an original score that draws on a wide range of traditions. Orchestra collective The Knights perform along with an international cast of singers, dancers and performers, many of whom are based in South Africa.
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 the circumstances of the war. It is about historical incomprehension (and inaudibility
and invisibility). The colonial logic towards the black participants could be summed up: ‘Lest their actions merit recognition, their deeds must not be recorded.’ The Head & the Load aims to recognise and record.