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AMBIKA SUBRAMANIAM
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A CONVERSATION BETWEEN AN EASTERNER AND A WESTERNER:

Westerner: And so...a film designer, furniture maker, writer, reader, dancer...explain.

A Westerner, lost in an Easterner’s lecture on Utopia, catches a reference to Max Weber: the “Iron Cage.” Weber had described it as the last stage of a cultural development, where there would be specialists without spirit, and sensualists without heart. The Westerner interrupts the Eastern saying, “Ah, finally! We have coeval beliefs, my friend. That the future culture of now is one of sterility and dispassion!”

The Easterner, skeptical, then asks, “But do you know how the iron cage is constructed?” The Western never learned to weld, was more of a woodworker, so listened:
“The base of the cage is knowledge, and its bars are power. At the meeting point, theory ceases to be theory and becomes common sense. All the Professionals in our lives accrue to this joint’s strength. They enforce it with more prestige than its practical successes warrant. And once this joint has reached the peak of its success, the cage can create knowledge and the very reality it encases. This knowledge-power-bred reality produces traditions and discourse, whose material presence and weight, not the originality of the maker, become the only thing responsible for what comes in and out of the cage.”


After a lengthy debate,the Westerner finally proclaims, “Well, I did it! I’ve built this cage. It’s indestructible, it’s heavy, and it’s a damn beautiful piece of work. What do you think?”

The Easterner replies, “Not quite right.”
“Are you sure?”
“I promise, I’ve been to Utopia and it’s greater than that.”


The western feels discouraged. The Easterner devices a plan: We will work together. We will build more, But instead of more cages like this, we’ll build an unrealistic, nonsensical amount of fire escapes. The fire escapes will be designed, built by hand, drawn, directed, written, read, danced. Probably more. One fire escape will lead into another. They’ll break, their joints won’t be strong. They’ll last, and the cage will transform. This will be our route to Utopia. Never to be specialized without spirit, or sensualized without heart. 

In agreement, they begin.
AMBIKA SUBRA
b. 1992;  Based in New York, NY
a@ambikasubra.com
IATSE 829 - Scenic Design

EDUCATION
2015 M.A. Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art and Design, London, UK, with Honors
2014 B.F.A. Film Theory and Sculpture, summa cum laude, Washington University in St. Louis
2012 Santa Reparata International School of Art, Italy

SKILLS: Adobe Creative Suite: Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign; Sketchup 3D, Vectorworks3D, Rhino 5 (Windows), AutoCAD (Windows), Grasshopper (Windows); TextWrangler, CSS, HTML; Microsoft Office; Final Cut Pro

WORK

2020   
Kal Penn Approves This Message, Freeform, New York, NY
Production Designer

The Flight Attendant, HBO Max/ Warner Bros, New York, NY
Set Designer / Graphics

2019   
Mrs. America, FX, New York, NY
Art Director (S1, E2)

The Trial of the Chicago 7, New York, NY
Directed by Aaron Sorkin; Production Designer: Shane Valentino
Set Designer

The Wilds, Amazon TV, Auckland, NZ
Directed by Susanna Fogel; Production Designer: Amy Williams
Set Designer

The Deuce, HBO, New York, NY
Created by David Simon and George Pelecanos; Production Designer: Scott Dougan
Graphics (S3, Ep 1- 7)
Art Director (S3, Ep 8)

2018
City Morgue, “Lamorghini Getaway” and “Caligula” Music Videos, NY
Production Designer

Charm City Kings, Baltimore, MD
Directed by Angel Manuel Soto, Written by Barry Jenkins; Production Designer: Scott Dougan
Graphics
           
Tigertail, New York, NY
Directed by Alan Yang; Production Designer: Amy Williams
Art Director

Before You Know It, Feature Film, New York, NY
Directed by Hannah Utt, Production Designer: Katie Hickman
Art Director/Art Coordinator/Graphics

Aloe Blacc’s “Brooklyn in the Summer,” Music Video, New York, NY
Directed by Anthony Williams and Joel Pront
Production Designer

Red Bull Music Festival, Designed by Julia Heymans
Graphic Designer and Draftsman

Solange Knowles’ Stage Design at Sydney Opera House, Australia
Lead Designer: Julia Heymans
Assistant Set Designer

The Sunlit Night, New York, NY
       Directed by David Wnendt, Production Designer: Katie Hickman
Graphic Designer

Feral, Feature Film, New York, NY
       Directed by Andrew Wonder, Production Design by Colleen Dodge
Scenic Artist

Freelance Graphic Designer for Film/Commercial
       Film, Commercials, and Short Films

2017    
Monsters and Men, Feature Film, New York, NY
Directed by Ronaldo Marcus Green, Production Designer: Scott Dougan
Assistant Art Director and Graphic Designer

2016-7  
Badlands Unlimited, New York, NY
CFO, Head of Research and Development, and Assistant Editor
<Greene Naftali’s Press Release>
Badlands Unlimited was a New York-based independent publisher founded by the artist Paul Chan in 2010, and consisted of artists Micaela Durand, Ian Cheng, Parker Bruce, and Ambika Subramaniam. Badlands’ work has been shown at The Whitney Museum of American Art, MoMA PS1, the Guggeinheim, etc.

Égal Dancewear, Founded by Misty Copeland, New York, NY
Graphic Designer and Photo Editor for Web and Print

2015            
Hato Press, London, UK
Publishing and Press Manager
Manager of risographic printing press; development of books from concept to finished publication

2014            
Analog Modern Furniture Design, Brooklyn, NY
Freelance Furniture Designer and Apprentice

White Flag Projects, St. Louis, MO
Installation and Art Handler

2013            
Rob Reiner Feature Film, And So It Goes..., Stamford, CT
Production Designer: Ethan Tobman; Art Directors: Matteo De Cosmo and Jan Jericho
Art Intern


BOOKS

Selected Writings of Carroll Dunham, by Carroll Dunham; Edited by Paul Chan, Assistant Edited by Ambika Subramaniam; Published by Badlands Unlimited, 2017

Fantasian, by Larissa Pham; Edited by Micaela Durand, Parker Bruce, and Ambika Subramaniam; Published by Badlands Unlimited, 2016.

Indignant, by William Loftie (M. Casey); Edited by Ambika Subramaniam; Published by SUB/SUR Editions,

Return of the Super Maria Sisters, by Ambika Subramaniam; Edited by Dr. Dan Smith; Published by Sub-Concrete Press; SUB/SUR Editions; Hato Press, 2015


AWARDS / SHOWS

2019 Greene Naftali, Publish & Perish: 8 Years of Badlands Unlimited, New York, NY

2017 Whitney Museum of American Art, An Incomplete Protest: “New No’s” By Badlands Unlimited

2016 Book Works Semina Series 2016-2017 (manuscript shortlisted)

2015 Clifford Chance Exhibition Design Award, University of the Arts, London (nomination)

2015 Unstitute, Spatio-Mnemonic Digital Residency

2014 John T. Milliken Residency Grant, from Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France

2014 Caroline Risque Janis Prize in Sculpture

2014 Sam Fox Award in Sculpture, Washington University in St. Louis


ARTICLES AND REVIEWS

2017 Badlands Unlimited, Publisher’s Weekly, Review of “Into Words: The Selected Writings of Carroll Dunham”

2017 Badlands Unlimited, ArtReview, March 2017, “What kind of art is being spawned in the place that spawned Trump?”

2017 Badlands Unlimited, Mousse Magazine, Issue 57, “What do we know?”

2017 Badlands Unlimited, Dazed Digital, “Facebook bans controversial anti-Trump protest posters”

2016 Badlands Unlimited, NYTimes “Best Art of 2016” for the work “New No’s”

2015 London Journal of Critical Thought, “Digital Ontologies for Contemporary Art”

2014 It’s Nice That, “Furniture Design: Intricate woven chair designs by Ambika Subramaniam”

2014 Temporary Art Review, “Of Zebraification: A Review of Cousins Presents ‘Faceless’”

2014 Astrum People, “Ambika Subramaniam: Ergonomically Designing Art Objects”

2013 Washington University Literature Department Collection, “Deleuze and Guattari Product Thesis”