Egyptian artist Amal Kenawy’s work is populated with enigmatic forms and recurring symbols that she uses to represent memory, inner and outer worlds, and shared experience. Animate and inanimate motifs combine in richly suggestive and expressive animated worlds: body parts, trees, shells and rats; electricity pylons, sinks, furniture and garments. Much of her work refers to the oppression of women within Egyptian and Muslim society. My lord is eating his tail (2010) is a new video animation – installed in the convict precinct of Cockatoo Island as part of the 17th Biennale of Sydney – that draws on her research into the lives of prisoners held captive in the early years of the island’s history. From this point of reference, Kenawy mixes in a fantasy that she has devised about a person who – trapped in his own body – borrows the physical from of another in order to live vicariously through him. In doing so, the artist explores ideas of both literal and metaphorical imprisonment.