Ten times more porters than soldiers died in Africa during the first world war. But they have never been properly commemorated. Now Tate Modern is putting this right – with William Kentridge’s most eye-popping show yet

A steady rain beats down on the steel roof of a rehearsal hall at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, filling the cavernous space with a tinny thrum. Inside, The Head and the Load, a kaleidoscopic tableau of carefully controlled chaos, deftly steered by William Kentridge, has been going through its first-ever dry run; but the rain has brought things to a momentary halt.

“It appears we have some competition,” the South African artist says, wearily emerging on stage to address the small audience assembled for the piece’s run-through. “This is going to be slow, I’m afraid.”

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