Announcing 2021 Ritzau Art Prize Artist Micha Serraf

New York, New York—South Africa-based photographer Micha Serraf (b. 1994), whose work explores the construction and deconstruction of identity, belonging, Blackness, and masculinity is the 2021 Ritzau Art Prize recipient. The artist is appreciated for their soft, Afrofuturistic work that platforms inclusivity for people of color, genderqueer, and ‘other’ identities who exist on social, creative, and mainstream peripheries. Now in its second year, the prize provides extraordinary global visibility and exposure, professional development, and career enhancing residencies to promising visual artists from the African continent.

Micha Serraf | Photograph by Paris Brummer

Africa enjoys a vibrant, expansive contemporary art scene, but there is limited funding on the continent to provide local artists with residencies. Tauck Ritzau Innovative Philanthropy (TRIP) has worked to address the issue since 2017, supporting residencies for promising artists from the continent at The International Studio & Curatorial Program in New York City. In 2020, the Ritzau Art Prize was founded by Colleen Ritzau Leth, Executive Director at TRIP in collaboration with 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, the first leading international art fair dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora with editions in London, New York, and Marrakesh to provide an expanded level of support.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the prize was announced online today on and @154artfair.

As part of the 2021 New York edition this week, Ms. Leth, a specialist in museums, cultural affairs, and international relations, will introduce a conversation between the artist and Kneo Mokgopa of the Nelson Mandela Foundation taking place during the fair’s virtual 1-54 Forum and on its related and popular podcast.

Micha Serraf, Famba Zvakanaka, 2020, Photograph, 25 x 33 in. 

Said Ms. Leth: “Micha’s intimate yet piercing photographs are made with great sensitivity and depth and delve beautifully into issues of belonging. We are thrilled that Micha will travel to New York City to connect with ISCP and the greater arts community here, and to make new work that investigates their interests in home and identities.”

An exceptional New York City residency and global artist network

Launched in 2020 and continuing annually for three years, recipients are invited to participate in The International Studio & Curatorial Program’s highly regarded residency program in New York City for 90 days and then join a growing, lifelong network of more than 1,500 ISCP alumni in over 85 countriesand a growing cohort of recipients of the Ritzau residency.

Serraf will travel from Cape Town in October and will receive a private studio, show work in Open Studios, meet with visiting critics, speak about their art and practice in a special public talk, and participate in field trips alongside more than 30 peers from at least 25 different countries. In a special interview to and, the artist told TRIP that they intend to use their time to reclaim the word ‘alien’ and “extend a hand to undermined and peripherized identities.”

1-54 NY 2019 | Courtesy of 1-54

Jury includes contemporary African art experts

The artist was competitively selected by the 2021 jury of distinguished contemporary African art experts: Natasha Becker, Curator of African Art at de Young Museum, San Francisco; Omar Kholeif, writer and Director of Collections and Senior Curator at Sharjah Art Foundation; and Nontobeko Ntombela, curator and Head of Department, History of Art, at the Wits School of Arts, Johannesburg. Added Ms. Becker: “Serraf’s conceptual practice will yield rich rewards in a city like New York. As an emerging artist, I believe the prize offers Serraf the opportunity to take their work to another level.”

Modupeola Fadugba, 2018 recipient of ISCP Residency for Visual Artists from the African Continent during a special artist talk

A new prize in a high-profile three year cycle

The second year of the three year prize cycle builds on TRIP’s commitment to provide artists from the continent with dynamic, immersive residencies, including inaugural recipient Cameroonian painter and installation artist Adjani Okpu-Egbe (b. 1979), whose raw, expressive art investigates African colonial history and political activism. Previously, TRIP supported ISCP residencies for artists from the African continent including Younes Baba-Ali (2019), whose wry, subversive art often takes place in the public streets of North Africa; Nigerian artist Modupeola Fadugba (2018), whose affecting paintings and works on paper explore issues of identity representation and access; and Kiluanji Kia Henda (2017), a self-taught Angolan artist whose art work explores themes of identity, politics, and perception of post-colonialism and modernism in Africa and was recently acquired by Tate Modern in London.

Ms. Leth, together with Robin Tauck, a philanthropist and business leader, invests in individuals and organizations creating bold and daring cultural responses to today’s social and humanitarian challenges. A special area of focus includes artists and thinkers active in creating cross cultural dialogue, mutual understanding, and more inclusive, welcoming societies.