As he stepped onto the specially constructed stage in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall to welcome the audience to the premiere of his major new work The Head and the Load, last night (11 July), William Kentridge wryly acknowledged that “this is not the only event taking place this evening” and entreated all present to refrain from checking the score of the England vs Croatia world cup semi final. He need not have worried: his epic gesamptkunstwerk kept even the most obsessive footie fans from thinking about the game.

Working with his long-time collaborator the South African composer Philip Miller and the dancer-choreographer Gregory Maqoma, Kentridge conjured up an evocative extravaganza that he described as “an interrupted musical procession” that drew on all the strands of his wide ranging practice—including music, dance, projections, mechanised sculpture and shadow play—to pay tribute to the hundreds of thousands of largely forgotten African porters and carriers who served the French and German forces during the First World War. Read more