William Kentridge’s Great War

William Kentridge’s Great War

William Kentridge’s Great War Performance at Tate Modern and New York’s Armory will remember Black Africa’s Forgotten Men…..

William Kentridge's Great War Performance -Art-Pierre

In addition to Rachel Whiteread, John Akomfrah, Duke Riley and Rachel Maclean, the South African artist is tasked with shedding light on the conflict far from the western front…………

The hundreds of thousands of forgotten Africans who fought and died as soldiers, bearers and workers in the First World War in the armies of their colonial rulers will be remembered in a spectacular performance made by South African artist William Kentridge, which premieres in July Tate Modern in London before traveling to New York and then Germany.

The Head and the Load, inspired by the Dada artists’ reaction to bloodshed, will first be performed by a cast of more than 50 dancers, actors, singers and musicians in the vast Turbine Hall of Tate Modern (11-15 July , 2018), before he toured to the cavernous Avenue Armory park in New York (5-15 December 2018). The loyal employee Philip Miller writes the score for the large-scale implementation.


Kentridge tells artnet News that the piece refers to how the First World War was a highlight of the Berlin Conference in 1884-85, the Scramble for Africa, when the European powers formed the continent. After the conflict “there is a huge re-regulation of Africa,” says Kentridge. He adds that the work will also be carried out in Germany as part of the next Ruhrtrienniale.

Although the campaign in East Africa is sometimes remembered, albeit as comments on the conflict on the West and other fronts, the impact and human costs of the war in Africa and in African lives “is a history I did not know about “He says, emphasizing that” a million Africans died in Africa. ”

William Kentridge's Great War Performance Artpierre

The head and the charge, an expression from a Ghanaian saying, refers to the thousands of Africans from almost every country that has been hunted to Europe by Great Britain, France and Germany to fight in the front line and in even greater numbers digging behind the lines and transport supplies as workers and carriers, but the focus is mainly on the men who volunteered or were employed in Africa. The empty promises of the colonial politicians and generals about civil rights as they served, and the mistreatment of the men, form the core of the operation, partly on behalf of 14-18 Now and the Park Avenue Armory.

Other high profile commissions announced today in London to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War with fine art include works by Rachel Whiteread, Rachel Maclean and John Akomfrah. Whiteread makes Nissen Hut, a sculpture cast from inside the type of prefabricated military buildings that was designed during the war. It will be unveiled on the site of a prisoner of war camp in the north of England.

Akomfrah, like Kentridge, remembers the African soldiers who fought. The British artist and filmmaker creates an installation with multiple screens. Peter Jackson, the New Zealand film director of ‘Lord of the Rings’, who has long been interested in the First World War, makes a 3D film based on archive footage of the conflict.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn-based artist Duke Riley brings his flying patrol pigeons to London to create Fly by Night. Another transatlantic committee, co-organized by the New York-based Public Art Fund, will unveil Dazzle Ship New York, the latest in a series of ships painted by an artist inspired by marine camouflage in times of war. Further details are announced.

This year, 14-18 Now, that since the start of the war has ordered new works to commemorate the First World War and its consequences, it also focuses on the centenary of women (more than 30 years) who have the right to vote in the United Kingdom have won and are members of Parliament. At the end of February, Turner prize winner Gillian Wearing’s statue of Suffragist campaigner Millicent Fawcett will be unveiled at Parliament Square, breaking the male monopoly of the site. Maclean, who last year represented Scotland at the Venice Biennale, was commissioned to make a film entitled Make Me Up, a part horror film, partly comedy, including a militant Suffragette’s vandalism of the Rokeby Venus by Velázquez in the National Gallery in London. 1914.

Kind regards Pierre

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