The Global Impact of the First World War

A war that spread beyond the Western Front

By 14-18 NOW

14-18 NOW: Africa and War - presented by Historian David Olusoga14-18 NOW

The Head & the Load (2018) by 14-18 NOW14-18 NOW

The Head & The Load

William Kentridge

Trailer: William Kentridge - The Head & The Load, Ruhrtriennale14-18 NOW

Performer in The Head & The Load (2018) by Stella Olivier14-18 NOW

The Head & The Load combined music, dance, film projections, mechanised sculptures and shadow play to tell the story of the millions of African porters and carriers who were involved in the First World War. The world premiere of this major new work was staged in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.

Performer in The Head & The Load (2018) by Stella Olivier14-18 NOW

Performer in The Head & The Load (2018) by Stella Olivier14-18 NOW

William Kentridge - The Head & the Load14-18 NOW

The Head & the Load (2018) by 14-18 NOW14-18 NOW

Taking its title from the Ghanaian proverb, ‘the head and the load are the troubles of the neck,’ William Kentridge’s most ambitious project to date drew on every aspect of his practice: drawing, printmaking, painting, sculpting, performance and filmmaking.

The Head & the Load (2018) by 14-18 NOW14-18 NOW

Kentridge is a remarkably versatile artist whose evocative vision combines the political with the poetic. Dealing with subjects as sobering as colonialism and totalitarianism, his highly personal work is often imbued with lyrical undertones and references to his native South Africa.

The Head & the Load (2018) by 14-18 NOW14-18 NOW

Working alongside his longtime collaborator Philip Miller, one of South Africa’s leading composers, this celebrated artist created a stunning audiovisual monument to those who died for a cause that was not their own.

SS Mendi Dancing the Death Drill (2018) by 14-18 NOW14-18 NOW

SS Mendi Dancing The Death Drill - TRAILER14-18 NOW

SS Mendi Dancing the Death Drill (2018) by 14-18 NOW14-18 NOW

In early 1917, the SS Mendi set sail from Cape Town, taking hundreds of black South African volunteers to support the Allied forces fighting in France. But early in the morning of 21 February 1917, the Mendi collided with a cargo ship amid thick fog in the English Channel south of the Isle of Wight and sank, killing 616 South Africans and 30 of the Mendi‘s crew.

SS Mendi Dancing the Death Drill - David Olusoga14-18 NOW

SS Mendi Dancing the Death Drill (2018) by 14-18 NOW14-18 NOW

The world premiere of SS Mendi Dancing the Death Drill was presented at Nuffield Southampton Theatres in Southampton from 29 June-14 July 2018. It received critical acclaim.

SS Mendi Dancing the Death Drill Rehersals, 14-18 NOW, 2018, From the collection of: 14-18 NOW
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SS Mendi Dancing the Death Drill, set in Paris 40 years after the war, focused on one of the ship’s passengers: Pitso Motaung, who sailed aboard the Mendi and lived to tell the tale.

SS Mendi Dancing the Death Drill Rehersals, 14-18 NOW, 2018, From the collection of: 14-18 NOW
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SS Mendi: Dancing the Death Drill - Trailer14-18 NOW

SS Mendi Dancing the Death Drill (2018) by 14-18 NOW14-18 NOW

Audience Reactions for SS Mendi: Dancing the Death Drill14-18 NOW

Mimesis: African Soldier (2018) by John Akomfrah14-18 NOW

Mimesis: African Soldier

John Akomfrah

Still from John Akomfrah's Mimesis: African Soldier (2018) by John Akomfrah14-18 NOW

John Akomfrah’s new multimedia installation remembers the millions of Africans who fought as soldiers or served as porters during the First World War.

John Akomfrah at Imperial War Museum (2018) by John Akomfrah14-18 NOW

14-18 NOW: African Soldier - John Akomfrah, Artist14-18 NOW

Mimesis: African Soldier (2018) by John Akomfrah14-18 NOW

The history of Africa

Combining mixed archival sources with newly filmed material, artistic reflections and tableaux reconstructions, this groundbreaking work by one of the UK’s most celebrated filmmakers reveals how the conflict shaped the recent history of Africa and the lives of its inhabitants.

Archive image- Mimesis: African Soldier (2018) by 14-18 NOW14-18 NOW

Archive image- Mimesis: African Soldier (2018) by 14-18 NOW14-18 NOW

Archive image- Mimesis: African Soldier (2018) by 14-18 NOW14-18 NOW

Mimesis: African Soldier (2018) by John Akomfrah14-18 NOW

Projected onto three screens, Mimesis: African Soldier tells a story of vast scope and enormous courage. It commemorates and celebrates the African men and women whose suffering has been neglected for too long.

Mimesis: African Soldier (2018) by John Akomfrah14-18 NOW

Dr Blighty (2016) by Tabatha Fireman14-18 NOW

Dr. Blighty

Produced by Nutkhut, for Brighton Festival

Dr Blighty projections at Brighton Festival14-18 NOW

Dr Blighty (2016) by Tabatha Fireman14-18 NOW

In May 2016, over 50,000 people experienced Dr. Blighty at Brighton’s Royal Pavilion Gardens.

Created by award-winning arts company Nutkhut for Brighton Festival, which celebrated its 50th festival that year, Dr Blighty threw a spotlight on the Indians who travelled across the world to fight for the Allies during the First World War.

Dr Blighty (2016) by Tabatha Fireman14-18 NOW

Between 1914 and 1916, Brighton’s Royal Pavilion Estate was used as a hospital for Indian servicemen who had been wounded on the Western Front.

Dr Blighty (2016) by Tabatha Fireman14-18 NOW

Dr. Blighty threw a spotlight on the Indians who travelled across the world to fight for the Allies during the First World War.

Dr Blighty (2016) by Tabatha Fireman14-18 NOW

More than one million men travelled from India to fight in World War One, and the collective experiences of these volunteer forces constitute one of the great untold stories in military history.

Dr Blighty (2016) by Linda Nylind14-18 NOW

The hospital installation was complemented by a series of related performances and participatory outreach activities, bringing back to life this moving episode in Brighton’s history.

Spotlight: Dr Blighty at Brighton Festival14-18 NOW

Dr Blighty (2016) by Tabatha Fireman14-18 NOW

The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians (2016) by 14-18 NOW14-18 NOW

The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians performed rare shows at Southbank Centre on 25 June 2016, with Damon Albarn and guests, presented by Africa Express.

The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians with Damon Albarn and Guests14-18 NOW

The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians- Rehearsal (2016) by 14-18 NOW14-18 NOW

The Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, which divided the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire into spheres of British and French influence, fostered instabilities in the Middle East which continue to cause conflict today. 

The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians Performance (2016) by 14-18 NOW14-18 NOW

This special concert reunited the Orchestra alongside Albarn and other guest performers to highlight and celebrate the remarkable music and culture of Syria.

Issam Rafea, Conductor (2016) by Adrian Nastase14-18 NOW

As a result of the on-going conflict, many members of the Orchestra have been forced to leave their country.

A REMARKABLE JOURNEY: Reuniting the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians14-18 NOW

The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians Performance (2016) by 14-18 NOW14-18 NOW

Paul Weller - Wild Wood (feat. the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians)14-18 NOW

The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians Performance (2016) by 14-18 NOW14-18 NOW

Artists from Britain and Syria were joined by performers from Algeria, Lebanon, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Tunisia and the United States at Southbank Centre.

Damon Albarn & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians (2016) by 14-18 NOW14-18 NOW

Damon Albarn - Out of Time (feat. The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians)14-18 NOW

End of Empire (2016) by John Phillips14-18 NOW

End of Empire

Yinka Shonibare MBE

Yinka Shonibare 'End of Empire' 2016, From the collection of: 14-18 NOW
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Yinka Shonibare MBE (2016) by John Phillips14-18 NOW

Yinka Shonibare MBE, one of the leading artists working in the UK, explored how new alliances forged in the First World War changed British society and continue to affect us today.

End of Empire, John Phillips, 2016, From the collection of: 14-18 NOW
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End of Empire, John Phillips, 2016, From the collection of: 14-18 NOW
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A metaphor for dialogue, balance and conflict, the entire work pivoted almost imperceptibly in the gallery space, symbolising the possibility of compromise and resolution between two opposing forces.

14-18 NOW: End of Empire - Yinka Shonibare, MBE14-18 NOW

End of Empire, Stephen White, 2016, From the collection of: 14-18 NOW
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End of Empire figure, John Phillips, 2016, From the collection of: 14-18 NOW
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Yinka Shonibare MBE – 'I'm the Rebel Within' | TateShots14-18 NOW

The British Library, Jonathan Bassett, 2016, From the collection of: 14-18 NOW
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How has immigration contributed to British culture? How have immigrants shaped what it means to be British? These are some of the questions Shonibare asks in The British Library, a sculptural work presented alongside End of Empire.

The British Library, Jonathan Bassett, 2016, From the collection of: 14-18 NOW
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The British Library, Jonathan Bassett, 2016, From the collection of: 14-18 NOW
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Shelves of books, many bearing the name of an immigrant who has enriched our society, reminded us that the displacement of communities by global war has consequences that inform our lives and attitudes today.

End of Empire - Yinka Shonibare MBE in conversation with Kirsty Lang14-18 NOW

Credits: Story

14-18 NOW is a five-year programme of extraordinary arts experiences connecting people with the First World War. Working with arts and heritage partners all across the UK, we commission new artworks from leading contemporary artists, musicians, designers and performers, inspired by the period 1914-18.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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