Hey folks, this is neat: I do community management volunteering for a really amazing networking platform for Berlin artists and creative organizations called ARTCONNECT BERLIN. I love my team and really enjoy the work I do for them. And they also enjoy the photo work I'm doing right now, so ACB interviewed me for an "Artist's Spotlight" on their blog. Click here for the full interview, or just keep reading...
Spotlight on Anni Tracy
Guben, Germany © Anni Tracy
Anni Tracy is an American photographer, producer and editor, and former photo editor of the west coast newspaper, The Portland Tribune. She enjoys hopping fences for good photo opportunities, cycling long distances, volunteering in the arts, exhibiting her photographic works, working on collaborative projects, and feeding her insatiable travel habit in her spare time. Anni now lives and works in Berlin as a freelance photographer and editor, and as communications manager here at Artconnect Berlin! We love the work she is doing right now, so we thought we’d share with our readers a bit more about Anni for our Spotlight of the Week.
When did you start photographing, Anni?
As a child, I took every art class offered in school. Painting, drawing, ceramics, batiking, crafts – I loved it all! Then when I was 16, my parents gave me a camera for Christmas – a Pentax K1000, gorgeous 35mm SLR camera which I still shoot with on occasion – and then signed me up for weekend darkroom classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. The rest is history, and I’ve been making pictures ever since!
You have traveled around the world – in recent years, you have lived in Philadelphia, New Mexico, Alaska, Colorado, Portland, Barcelona, and now you are in Berlin. How important is travel for you, and why?
Travel is essential to my way of life and my art. I have a restless nature, and have realized over the years that it’s just a part of who I am and will always be. Travel also forces me to step outside my geographic and social comfort zones – which have been important challenges for me over the years. I used to be an extremely shy and introverted kid, but there’s nothing like moving across the country (or the globe) to places I’ve never been to before, alone and where I know not a soul, to really force me to open up and welcome all of life’s possibilities. And now it is my passion to see the world, try new and different things, stay curious and active always, make mistakes and learn from them, get hurt and then get happy, to love and be loved – and all these elements become inspiration for the photographs I make.
Tierpark, Berlin © Anni Tracy
What have you learned from your expeditions?
Now that I’m a bit older and hopefully, wiser, I’ve learned the necessity of establishing roots and creating a “home base” wherever I go. After years of moving around (15 times in 10 years back in the States, and 8 times already since arriving in Europe Jan. 1… uf!), having a place to call my own and building a strong friend-family base is absolutely essential in order for me to feel whole and balanced. Negotiating the joys and often, the trials and tribulations, of the traveler’s lifestyle stops being fun and interesting and starts to be really exhausting if you can’t stay grounded. And if one of these elements is missing, it’s obviously hard to stay focused. This is a constant battle for most people, but I am overjoyed to now be creating this life here in Berlin and to be making images I’m deeply excited about. I will always be a traveler of course. I’ll always have that hunger and curiosity for newness, for discovery, and I’ll continue to rechannel all that energy into my art projects and the relationships I build along the way.
Children’s Hospital, Berlin © Anni Tracy
Tell me about your greatest success.
Oh, gosh. I feel as though I’m right in the middle of my greatest success story as we speak! This year has been incredible, and difficult beyond measure. I moved here from Portland, a magical little city on the US west coast, full of artists and musicians and highly educated, creative individuals who all live this happy, healthy, active lifestyle close to mountains and nature and the ocean. Portland was my home base for 6 years – a record for me! I had a great job as photo editor for a newspaper in town, and also worked for a wonderful photography gallery and learning center and did freelance producing and photographing on the side. I could blink and be 50 years old, happy and still living in Portland, doing the same things. But how did I know if Portland was where I want to spend the rest of my life? I felt I hadn’t seen enough of the world, and I was uncomfortable with my being so comfortable in Portland. I got restless again. It has been a dream of my for years and years to live in Europe – there’s a certain “sexiness” to the Euro-lifestyle, especially to Americans – and last June I met a man in Portland who loved traveling as much as I did, so that was the excuse I needed to leave my job, get rid of my things, and move across the world.
Spain was where I’d originally wanted to move, but there are obviously no jobs there right now. And for years, I’d been hearing about Berlin’s vibrant art culture and its affordability, so I decided to move to Berlin after spending the winter in warmer, sunnier Barcelona. Unfortunately, my relationship did not survive the winter. I questioned everything in my life at that time, stopped wanting to make photographs, had no direction or inspiration. It was a pretty dark, desperate time. I arrived in Berlin and immediately turned anger and confusion into productivity. I started settling in and establishing roots by making friends, connecting with artists, building my freelance photography business. And exploring this city and it’s deep, dark, painful history while learning from my own struggles this year instantly turned into a photo series I’m extremely excited about, Ghosts of the GDR, which I’ve been hungrily working on for 4 months now. It explores the evidence of Berlin and East Germany’s dark history in the past century, ever present in the abandoned spaces still standing in ruin since the Wall came down. Check out the new series on my website.
My life began the second I arrived in Berlin. It’s been a huge challenge here so far and life is by no means easy here for artists, but struggle wakes you up to the joy in life. I’m grateful for everything I’ve been through this year, and I feel as though Berlin is exactly where I need to be right now. I have good friends, I love the photographs I’m making, I am excited about the freelance work I’m picking up, I am thrilled to be working here at ArtConnect Berlin as one of their community managers – and next week I start photo editing work for an international media organization here in Berlin. These are exciting times! My greatest success story is slowly being written as we speak.
Of course, watch the story unfold through my blog…
Iraqi Embassy, Berlin © Anni Tracy
What motivates you the most?
Curiosity. Wonder. Inspiration. Learning. Life!
Where do you see yourself in few years?
Goodness, I have no idea! I just moved to Berlin and am not planning on leaving anytime soon – unless the German government kicks me out next year, which I will not let happen. I do miss living near the mountains and I miss my family back in the States, but again, I’m exactly where I want and need to be at the moment.
Along the Oder Nuesse Cycle Path, Guben © Anni Tracy
What do you think about Artconnect Berlin?
What a fantastic organization! I immediately joined ACB when I moved to Berlin, and it has been an invaluable resource in connecting with other artists, finding work and collaborations and learning about new, interesting, innovative art happening in this city. I only started working for ACB as a communications manager after I became so inspired by what they do that I felt I needed to give back in some way. Every city should have a social platform like Artconnect Berlin!
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, Oranienburg, © Anni Tracy
CONNECT WITH ANNI ON ARTCONNECT BERLIN,
- Tierpark Complex, Berlin © Anni Tracy