The Head & the Load - 14-18 NOW
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William Kentridge

The Head & the Load


Image credit: Stella Olivier

The Head & the Load combines music, dance, film projections, mechanised sculptures and shadow play to tell the story of the millions of African porters and carriers who served British, French and German forces during the First World War. The world premiere of this major new work will be staged in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.

William Kentridge is a remarkably versatile artist whose evocative vision combines the political with the poetic. Dealing with subjects as sobering as colonialism and totalitarianism, his highly personal work is often imbued with lyrical undertones and references to his native South Africa. Taking its title from the Ghanaian proverb, ‘the head and the load are the troubles of the neck,’ Kentridge’s most ambitious project to date draws on every aspect of his practice: drawing, printmaking, painting, sculpting, performance and filmmaking. Working alongside his longtime collaborator Philip Miller, one of South Africa’s leading composers, this celebrated artist creates a stunning audiovisual monument to those who died for a cause that was not their own.

This musical journey, as much an installation as a performance piece, combines performances by orchestra collective The Knights with an international cast of singers, dancers and performers, many of whom are based in South Africa. They are accompanied by a chorus of mechanised gramophones, projections and shadow play to create an extraordinary imaginative landscape on an epic scale.

Co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW and Park Avenue Armory

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

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

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