Sara Blaylock

Sara Blaylock

Ph.D. Candidate
Art and culture of East Germany in the 1980s (performance, installation, photography, film, independent galleries and presses); East German film (DEFA); Revolutionary aesthetics; Socialist aesthetics; 20th century theories of aesthetics and politics; Modernity and Post-Modernity
831 459-4660
Research Interests: 

Research on East German art has tended to focus on the repressive conditions of state politics. Within this limited analytic paradigm art practices are either considered to be state propaganda or examples of political resistance. Interpretations have concentrated on how artists negotiated the state’s prescription for art and politics and have overlooked artistic autonomy, personal politics, and creative desires. My dissertation examines the performance art, photography, Super-8 film, galleries, and publications of East German artists in the 1980s through an expanded lens. It finds in these experimental art practices a continuum of conformity and rebellion that suggests artists in East Germany exercised greater agency than current understandings of the state system allow. 

Kresge 220
Office Hours: 
Fall 2015: by appointment.
Mailing Address: 

University of California at Santa Cruz

Porter Faculty Services

1156 High Street

Santa Cruz, CA 95064

Selected Publications: 

Forthcoming. 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: 

"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 (East and West Germany and East Bloc, in general)

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: 

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

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

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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