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Arnolfini - est 1961

Created by William Kentridge, commissioned by 14-18 NOW, presented by Tate Modern – Arnolfini is proud to host a digital performance film of the world premiere of this major new work.



Taking its title from a Tswana proverb, ‘the head and the load are the troubles of the neck’, this epic theatrical-music piece will tell the neglected story of the hundreds of thousands of African porters and carriers who served British, French and German forces during the First World War. It draws on every aspect of Kentridge’s practice to combine music, dance, projections, mechanised sculptures and shadow play.

William Kentridge is an internationally acclaimed South African artist, renowned for the evocative power of his work, which has thrilled audiences around the globe. His exhibitions and large-scale, staged performances delve into the history of colonialism in Africa and the aspirations and failures of revolutionary politics, while engaging a wide-range of visual and aural references – from European high modernism, to African traditional and contemporary music and dance. His work has been shown and collected by museums all over the world.

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