a woman sits on a couch with her eyes closed and head tilted back

Hayley Millar Baker: Nyctinasty

Contemporary Art Project #5: the Sydney premiere of Nyctinasty (2021), a film by Hayley Millar Baker.
'Nyctinasty', by Gunditjmara and Djabwurrung artist Hayley Millar Baker, was originally commissioned by the National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra for the 4th National Indigenous Art Triennial.

Representing the rhythmic movement of leaves or petals in higher plants in response to the onset of diurnal changes in light, Nyctinasty emblematically translates these crucial movements of self-preservation and survival to echo the ways humans face the delicate balance between the physical world and the spiritual realm. This ‘in-between’ – a space operating on multiple frequencies, where spirits linger and the mind and body shift into a state that tethers life, death and afterlife together as one – revealing the unbroken link of communication between the two. 

Nyctinasty centres female power and strength in reference to elements of the horror genre that is often focused on women’s psychosis. The female body is employed as a vessel to carry a present-day practice of magic and spirituality – descending from many millennia of spiritual practices. As the protagonist’s commanding character remains cognisant of her task, she carries herself meditatively through the all-too-well-known domestic space with confidence, acutely aware of her surroundings – physically and psychologically – openly and unafraid. 

Learn more about this work and Hayley Miller Baker on her website

poster image of a woman with closed eyes and serene look on her face tilted slightly backwards
a poster image of a muddied hand in drastic blacks

Header image: Still from Nyctinasty. Courtesy of the artist. 

Level 1, Penelope Gallery