Sara Blaylock

Sara Blaylock

Ph.D. Candidate
Art and culture of East Germany in the 1980s (performance, photography, film, independent galleries and presses); East German film (DEFA); counter-visuality; aesthetics of socialism and communism; 20th century theories of aesthetics and politics; experimental art from the East Bloc in state- and post-socialism
831 459-4660
Research Interests: 

In the 1980s, East Germany’s experimental artists produced more than ever an expansive vision of a country rendered myopic by ideology. My dissertation, “Magnitudes of Dissent: Art from the East German Margins,” explores the implications of this expansion through analysis of photography, performance art, Super-8 film, galleries, and artist publications.

It argues that these art practices enacted an idea of citizen agency particular to the conditions of state-socialism. By examining experimental art as a form of citizen dissent, this dissertation helps to redefine the ways that these East German artists claimed rights and freedoms in a state system generally understood today as totalitarian and uniformly oppressive.

In addition to exploring this unique cultural history for its own sake, “Magnitudes of Dissent” contributes to understanding how the East Bloc’s regional specificities both defined experimental art of the period and continue to influence that of the contemporary.

Kresge 220
Office Hours: 
Spring 2016: Wednesdays 3:30-4:30, and by appointment
Mailing Address: 

University of California at Santa Cruz

Porter Faculty Services

1156 High Street

Santa Cruz, CA 95064

Selected Publications: 


Bringing the War Home to the United States and East Germany: In the Year of the Pig and Pilots in Pajamas,” Cinema Journal 56.4 (August 2017).

Being the woman they wanted her to be: Cornelia Schleime performs her Stasi file,” Gradhiva, Special Issue “ARTchives.” (December 2016) To be published in French translation. [Invited]

“A Material Revolt: Body Portraits in the Prenzlauer Berg of the 1980s,” catalogue essay for the Gegenstimmen exhibition, curated by Christoph Tannert and Eugen Blume (Martin Gropius Bau, July 15 – September 26, 2016, Berlin, Germany) Published in both original English and in German translation.

Contributions to The Handbook of East German Cinema: The DEFA Legacy, ed. Evan Torner and Henning Wrage. (Walter De Gruyter Press, 2016)


Review of Sarah E. James' Common Ground. German Photographic Cultures Across the Iron Curtain (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), Sehepunkte. (May 2015)

"Cold War Domestics - Home Archives: Paulo Brusky & Robert Rehfeldt's Mail Art Exchanges from East Berlin to South America and Signs Fiction: Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt at Chert gallery, Berlin, January 10 - March 28, 2015," ARTMargins Online. (March 2015)

Review of Seth Howes' dissertation "Punk Avant-Gardes: Disengagement and the End of East Germany," Dissertation Reviews. (March 2015)

"Whiter Alltag? How the Wende Museum revises East German history and why it matters," Verges: Germanic and Slavic Studies in Review 2.2 (2013).

Review of Nicholas Mirzoeff's The Right to Look (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011), Invisible Culture (January 2013).

Selected Presentations: 

"DIY Public Sphere: East Germany's Homespun Publications," Red on Red Symposium, Yale University (April 8-9, 2016).

"The Body in Pieces: Radical East German Photography in the 1980s," College Art Association, Washington, DC (February 3-6, 2016).

"Being the woman they wanted her to be: Cornelia Schleime performs her Stasi file," Feminism and Art History's New Domesticities, University of Birmingham, England (July 3-4, 2015).

"The case of Cornelia Schleime: Reading signs of artist agency in Stasi Files," Reassessing East German Art: 25 Years After the Fall of the Berlin Wall, Iowa State University. (September 15-17, 2014).

"The body as a machine: System contact in the art of the Auto-Perforation Artists, Dresden 1985-1991", "Dropping Out of Socialism": Alternative Cultures in the Soviet Bloc, 1956-1991. University of Bristol, England. (June 5-6, 2014).

“The body under duress will be moved: American Pilots and East German Spectators in Pilots in Pyjamas (East Germany, 1968, Walter Heynowski &
Gerhard Scheumann)”, Society for Cinema and Media Studies, Seattle, WA (March
19 - 23, 2014).

"Archiving the Public Sphere: Artist Responses to the Hot Autumn" German Studies Association Conference - Milwaukee (October 4 - 7, 2012).

"Culver City's Wende Museum: East Germany on the Pacific" Berlin Program for Advanced German & European Studies, Berlin Program Summer Workshop "German Studies Between the Global and the Local," Freie Universität - Berlin (June 25 - 26, 2012).

Art and Politics, Art History Graduate Symposium, University of Oregon - Eugene (April 12 - 13, 2012).

Teaching Interests: 

Cold War art and culture in state- and post-socialism (East and West Germany and East Bloc countries)

Socialist and Communist aesthetics

Aesthetics and Politics

East German film (DEFA)

Theories and Art of Modernism (US, Europe, East Bloc)

Theories and Art of Post-Modernism (US, Europe, and East Bloc)

Honors and Awards: 

Research Fellowship for International Graduate Students, Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Fall 2016

Dissertation Completion Fellowship, University of California - Santa Cruz, 2016-17

Doctoral Student Sabbatical Fellowship, University of California - Santa Cruz, Fall 2015

Arts Dean Summer Dissertation Grant, University of California - Santa Cruz, 2015

German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Research Grant for Doctoral Candidates, 2014-15 academic year in Berlin

Coalition of Women in German, Zantop Travel Award, 2014

Arts Dean Fund for Excellence, University of California - Santa Cruz, 2013, 2014, 2015, & 2016

Summer Institute on Conducting Archival Research, Invited to participate in one week workshop held at George Washington University, May 2013

German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), German Studies Research Grant, 2012

Porter College Travel/Research Grant, University of California - Santa Cruz, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

University of California Santa Cruz, Regents' Fellowship, 2011-12

Education and Training: 
B.F.A. California College of the Arts, San Francisco, Media Arts
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