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About The Head & The Load

Combining the political with the poetic, renowned South African artist William Kentridge synthesizes music, movement, sculpture, and shadow play to conjure a “historical drawing in performance.” A play on the Ghanaian proverb, “the head and the load are the troubles of the neck,” this large-scale work expressively speaks to the nearly two million African porters and carriers used by the British, French, and Germans who bore the brunt of the casualties during the First World War in Africa and the historical significance of this story as yet left largely untold.

Commissioned by the Armory, this processional musical journey—as much an installation as a performance piece— features music by Kentridge’s long-time collaborator Philip Miller and co-composer Thuthuka Sibisi and choreography by Gregory Maqoma, performed by an international ensemble cast of singers, dancers, and performers accompanied by a chorus of mechanized gramophones alongside multiple film projections and shadows.

Run Time

1hr 30min (no intermission)

Start Date

End Date

Park Avenue Armory

643 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10065

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