On the occasion of the festival Europalia.India and the exhibition Indomania (Bozar, Brussels, September 2013–January 2014) Hans Op de Beeck travelled to the historically important religious centre of Hampi (Karnataka) to make a new video. In his multidisciplinary works Op de Beeck usually creates entirely fictitious worlds that all the same seem very authentic—despite their visibly constructed nature—and tell us something about life. But this project started the other way round: the artist went looking for the fictitious element in reality, in order to create a small, universal story.

Before the Rain (A Village) shows us the daily events in this South Indian region, which combines a mineral, eroded landscape with rice fields, sheep herds and the impressive ruins of the Vijayanagara dynasty (1336-1565). During the rain season the artist stayed in the remote South Indian village, where humans and animals live together in small huts and sheds. He filmed only just before the onset of a new shower of rain—a time when the light becomes very diffuse and the sky becomes strangely, vaguely white. Oddly enough, as a result the Indian village bathes in a typically subdued, Western European light that is very unusual in the south of India. The film is constructed as a series of silent tableaux vivants that are filmed with a static, frontal camera on a tripod. Op de Beeck quite deliberately sought the small, everyday things we share beyond cultural borders, and consciously stayed away from the spectacular and that which is explicitly related to religion, mysticism or “being different”. Thus with this film he tried to create a sort of imaginary, universal village that speaks about how time silently passes in a small community, while avoiding the “exoticizing” glance of the idealizing idyll. The work invites a silent, sensory perception and reflection.