Nico Athene (b.1986 Cape Town) is a body of colliding personas and intimate intricacies. Her trans-disciplinary practice is based on an expanded notion of performance, and slips between a critical view on photography, multimedia collage, video, installation and sculpture. Athene began making art around the complexities of trading gendered identity and relationship as an aesthetic practice in itself, when she working as a stripper in a club. Since then, her practices focused on  defracted and enmeshed notions of identity-beyond-capitalism, which she understands as an urgent and ecological prerogative. Athene facilitates workshops on eco-intimacy and understanding-consent-through-touch as part of her expanded performance practice.

Athene holds a Masters in Fine Art from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg (distinction), a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Edinburgh and a BA in Social Anthropology from the University of Cape Town. She is a trained birth doula and facilitator in various psycho and movement modalities, including constellations therapy and butoh. Her work has been exhibited, installed and performed in various galleries and locations including the Pretoria Art Museum (Pretoria), Stevenson (Online), Kalashikovv (Johannesburg), the AVA (Cape Town), Bagfactory (Johannesburg), and Theatre Arts (Cape Town). She has worked on commissions: for the Institute for Creative Art (2022), the Spier Light Art Festival (2022), the National Arts Festival, South Africa (2020), and Brett Bailey’s Constellations (2021, 2022). She has been Artist in Residence at MusicDance 21 (Cape Town), Sante Fe Art Institute (NM), Vermont Studio Centre (VM), Arts Letter and Numbers (NY), Arteles (Finland), and Any Body Dance Lab (Cape Town).

Athene is the recipient of an Open University Society Network and Centre for Human Rights and the Arts Grant from Bard College in support of her workshop The Aesthetics of Embodied Ecologies. Her MFA was supported by grants from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, Wits Post Graduate Grant and RINC Grant from the University of Witwatersrand.




Masters in Fine Art, University of Witwatersrand.

Awarded with Distinction.

2017 – 2018 Family Constellations Training, African Constellations.
2021 Masters in Public Health, University of Edinburgh
2012 Astanga Yoga Teacher Training (YTT200), Haum of Yoga.

BA Social Anthropology and English, University of Cape Town.

Awarded with Distinction.

2022 80min minute performance for Constellations. Curated by Brett Bailey. Spier Estate, Cape Town.

No One Gets Out of This Alive (Enfant). 20-40minute performance. Commissioned by Douglas Gimberg and Insitu_Africa as part of Pretext group exhibition, Salt River, Cape Town.

  ‘Cruising Utopia’ solo installative performance ft. DRAGMOTHER (Tazmé Pillay) on the decks. Commissioned by Jay Pather and Luvuyo Equiano Nyawose, for the Institute for Creative Arts (ICA) Live Art Festival. Cape Town
  Feel SomeTHING. 12 minute looped multichannel video and custom built rig. For Spier Light Art Festival. Commissioned by Jay Pather and Vaughn Sadie, Stellenbosch.
2021 135 minute untitled performance for Constellations. Curated/directed by Brett Bailey. Spier Estate, Cape Town.
2020 Together Apart. 45minute film. Commissioned by the National Arts Festival South Africa, Makhanda.



2022 Constellations. Curated by Brett Bailey. Spier Estate, Cape Town.
  Pretext group exhibition, curated by Douglas Gimberg, Insitu_Africa,Cape Town.
  Vrek: Performance-at-the-edge-of-humanity-as-art with Tossie van Tonder in collaboration with Sumalgy Nuro and Garth Erasmus, Theatre Arts, Cape Town.
  Institute for Creative Arts (ICA) Live Art Festival. Cape Town. Commissioned by Jay Pather and Luvuyo Equiano Nyawose.
  Spier Light Art Festival. Commissioned by Jay Pather and Vaughn Sadie, Stellenbosch.
2021 Constellations. Curated by Brett Bailey. Spier Estate, Cape Town.
  Music Dance 2021 Performances in collaboration with Tossie van Tonder, Vasco Mirine, Garth Erasmus and Sumalgy Nuro. Curated by Thalia Laric and Manuela Lucia Tessi. Theatre Arts, Cape Town.
  Sasol New Signatures 2021 (group exhibition) Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria.

A Short Philosophy on Medium, (group exhibition) curated by Michele Rolstone and  Henrietta Scholtz, AVA Gallery, Cape Town. 

  We Need New Archetypes (solo), Black Dog Studios, Cape Town.
2020 Nonrepresentational, (group exhibition) Stevenson Gallery, Online.
  Curated Programme National Arts Festival, Makhanda.
  Thami Mnyele Fine Art Awards Exhibition, Ekhuruleni.
2019 Sasol New Signatures, (group exhibition) Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria.
  Its Rude to Stare but You’re Welcome to See, (group exhibition) curated by Isabella Chydenius, Michaelis Galleries Cape Town.
  Institute for Creative Arts Live Art Workshop, Group Showcase,  curated by Jay Pather, Cape Town, South Africa.
  Bibliotheca 700, (group exhibition) Bag Factory, Johannesburg
  Home Affairs, (group exhibition) curated by Astrid Gebhardt for Cape Town Art Week, Daor Contemporary Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
2018 I’ll Show You Mine If You Show Me Your Wallet, curated by Ed Young, Kalashnikovv Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
  Body Politic 2: Pathology, curated by Louise Westerhout, Cape Town, South Africa.
  Buffer Zones, (group exhibition) curated by Juliana Irene Smith, Vaasa, Finland.
  Any Body Dance Lab Group Showcase, curated by Kopano Maroga, Thalia Laric and Kristina Johnston, Cape Town, South Africa.
2017 In Bed With Artists Exhibition, curated by Nico Athene and Sitaara Stodle, Cape Town, South Africa
  Interactive installation In Bed With Artists Residency, curated by Nico Athene and Juliana Irene Smith, Cape Town, Johannesburg.
2022 Art Throb:
2019 Art Throb:
2018 City Press:
2018 Bubblegum Club: In Bed With Nico Athene – A Consideration of The Body and Embodied Labour as an Aesthetic
2017 Huffington Post and City Press: Nico Athene is Disrupting the Art World By Holding a Residency in Her Bed

Microgrant from the Centre for Human Rights and the Arts, and Open University Society Network at Bard Collage. 

2021 Sasol New Signatures Merit Award.
2021 RINC funding, Wits School of the Arts, Wits University.
2019 Sasol New Signatures Merit Award.
2019 Postgraduate Research Grant, Wits University.
2019 Arts Research Africa WSOA Mellon funded Masters Bursary.

Graduation BA with distinction in Social Anthropology

Class medal SAN3015S (Anthropology through ethnography)

Dean’s Merit List 


Class medal REL2048S (Psychology of religion)

Dean’s Merit List 


Entrance scholarship

Dean’s Merit List





Arts Research Africa Symposium. Workshop Presentation: Approximating unKnowns as an Ethics Towards Encountering Difference 

2019 Arts, Objects and Archive Conference and Paper Presentation
2019 Live Art Workshop Institute for Creative Arts with the support of Pro Helvitia, Michaelis, UCT, Cape Town
2018 Sante Fe Art Institute, Artist in Residence, New Mexico, USA
2018 Any Body Dance Lab, Artist in Residence, Cape Town, South Africa
2018 Wiser Symposium on Well Sexuality, Panelist, University of Witswaterstrand, Johannesburg
2018 Vermont Studio Centre, Artist in Residence, Vermont, USA
2017 Arteles Creative Residency Program, Artist in Residence, Finland
2014 Centre for the Archive, University of Cape Town, Research Resident ‘Body as Archive’