Gwan Tung Dorothy Lau: Intradependent

Intradependent is a digitally manipulated self-portrait that explores the tension between the natural compulsion for personal excellence, and a countervailing urge to self-sabotage. Contextualised with the Psychoanalysis theory of Moral Masochism, the work depicts two identical figures, one repressing the other yet depending on her support; and the other providing support while enduring the weight of the former. In this enclosed ecosystem, an individual is simultaneously the perpetrator and the victim; the consumer and provider. This dynamic alludes to the perplexity and interchangeability of one’s internal performed roles, coined by Lau as an ‘intradependent’ mentality.

The Freudian notion of a divided and duplicated self is a recurring theme in my practice. In my auto-ethnographical and performative works, I stage internal dialogues to convey the duality and fluidity of my social identities, an amalgamation of my Hong Kong upbringing and Australian education. Adopting a meta-referential approach, my interdisciplinary practice draws from the conventions of studio practice to provide an intimate interpretation towards the process of art making, and the phenomenon of self-representation and tacit social rules in the context of the art scene.

In Intradependent, while the duo can be read as dependent and supportive respectively, there is also an element of self- inflicted punishment. The kneeling figure is conditioned to prolonged endurance bearing the weight of the sitting figure. In the theory of Moral Masochism, Psychoanalyst Roy Schafer suggested in his article “Those Wrecked by Success” (1988) that self-destructive behaviours could be stimulated by a fear of achievement. While the yearning for personal achievement and social acceptance is a dominating theme in my works, I observe a self-sabotaging tendency. The paralysing fear of mediocrity has seemingly left me shrouded in an unconscious guilt. Similar to the kneeling figure, I am immobilised by weight of my own ambition.

Ultimately a self-portraiture about art making, the overlapping of the artist and the muse in Intradependent is an Ouroboros – a serpent biting at its own tail. As the artist consumes and exploits the muse for her work, the two figures seemingly become a reluctant cannibal and a willing victim. An extension to my work A Stagnant Stack, the violence and turbulence are however neatly concealed in the stillness of the monochromatic portrait, reflective of my profession as a commercial Art Director, and paying abidance to the tacit rule of always maintaining decency.

Gwan Tung Dorothy Lau is Hong Kong-based contemporary artist working with digitally manipulated performative self-portrait photography and video, installation and performance. She completed her MFA with distinction at RMIT and Hong Kong Art School after receiving her BFA (Visual Arts) from QUT. She represented the institution at the HATCHED: National Graduate Show. In addition to being featured in VOGUE Hong Kong, Vice Creator and RealTime, Lau has participated in the Tropical Lab international artist residency and the Creative Mornings lecture series. Lau has exhibited internationally, notably at Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Hong Kong Arts Centre Pao Galleries and Metro Arts Brisbane. For her commercial works, Lau founded GTDL Creative, a studio that provides art direction and consultation for media productions.

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