Virtue Village | Reclaiming and reimagining the idea of “queer community”

Virtue Village | Reclaiming and reimagining the idea of “queer community”


“We are tired of portrayals of our community by mainstream society that are homonormalised, overly positive or pitiful. We just have to be honest and blunt, whether the truth is poignant or not.” — Virtue Village

Virtue Village | Image courtesy of the artists and PHD Group

Established in 2020, Virtue Village is founded by Hong Kong artist duo Joseph Chen and Cas Wong who named their group after old public housing estate blocks in Kowloon City. Chun Seen Mei Chuen (真善美村), one of the oldest public housing estates in Hong Kong they have been living together. The English translation of their community is “truth, kindness and beauty”, the virtues human beings are supposed to pursue in life, the artist duo semantically translated into “Virtue Village”.

Virtue Village, RUSH, 2022 | Image courtesy of the artists and PHD Group

Virtue Village roots their practice in contemporary spirituality, transforming found objects, environment, and the body into vessels for parabiotic communion. Tapping into the multiple definitions of ascension, they navigate the planes of collective queer subculture, fetish, and transhumanism. Their work has been exhibited in various art spaces in Hong Kong including Negative Space, Parallel Space and Present Projects. In 2021, they organized the performance platform and exhibition Facial Nuisance (活體洞) in Hong Kong.


Referencing the village in America in the 60s and 70s

Virtue Village explores queer identities and counterculture, deconstructing preconceived notions of gender ideals to understand how someone queer may behave and react to specific scenarios or parallel realities.

Virtue Village, RUSH, 2022 (Detail) | Image courtesy of the artists and PHD Group

The queer figures with no specific gender assigned are created and imagined by the artist duo, depicting the everyday life in the “village”. The idea of “village” is explored in different cultural contexts. “We are actually referencing the cult village in America in the 60s and 70s, and also the gay village, where a particular group of people belong to the same niche culture and they want to escape from mainstream civilisation.”

Virtue Village, RUSH, 2022 (Detail) | Image courtesy of the artists and PHD Group

Transhumanism is also one of their themes, turning exhibition space into a village in post-human narratives to blur the lines between humans, animals, and machines. “Transhumanism originally means a movement in which humans can evolve and progress when bonded with science and technology. We elaborate on this by presenting increasingly blurred lines between human, machine, and nature in the posthuman narrative, where the idea of “human” is challenged and constantly in flux/transitioning, and manifests in a state of fluidity in queerness.”


Queerness and fluidity help to think beyond the binary mindset

“In this village, we want to find a common ground for everybody, and this is what all humans should think about instead of just focusing on their own selfish thoughts. The only way to do that is to escape from the current mindset of the binary. Once you realise and learn about queerness and fluidity, you won’t be stubborn anymore.”

Virtue Village, Talisman for Radical Monogamy ™️, 2022 | Image courtesy of the artists and PHD Group

To burn down structures is key to Virtue Village’s practice, a metaphor for the queering of heteronormative romanticism. “Talisman” series chronicles the relationship cycles of the artist duo and challenges the commodity fetishism of romantic symbolism. The first in the series, Talisman for Radical Monogamy™️ reveals a portrait of the two artists in a struggle or passionate embrace, with one stabbing the other as a reference to the sacrifices inherent in monogamous relationships.

Virtue Village, Talisman for Recreational Arson™️, 2022 | Image courtesy of the artists, PHD Group and Sunpride Foundation

For the second work in the series, Talisman for Recreational Arson™️, the locket has fallen and is half-buried in dirt. This shift reflects the artist-couple’s shedding of a former self, and mourning rituals captured in the act of digging, covering, and burning, as seen in the painted scene within. In this next chapter, the two artists are sitting calmly on a round bed they once shared, looking ahead as flames engulf them.