Merve Tuna (1984, Eskişehir) is an artist and a designer with a product design B.Sc. from Istanbul Technical University and a fashion design MA from London College of Fashion. She crafts prosthetic objects for everyday life that project the libidinal aspect of social relations, with a preceding interest in materials and entailing techniques.
In her artistic practice, Merve Tuna engages with the core themes of sexuality and taboo, fetishism and power relations, and exposes how these concepts are embodied in physical objects. As part of her recent work, she has been researching subject-object relations, how these relations come into being during the psychosexual development stages of a person and the formation of their unconscious, and the etiology of masochism and fetishism. Her professional background as a product and fashion designer informs the material-driven prosthetic aspect of her work. The set of concepts she thinks with are linked with her personal interest in psychology, film, and mathematics. That being the case, she makes use of either object-based or narration-based mediums in her work production process.
In her narration-based work, timeline is both a tool and a methodology revisited often, whether during research and analysis, narrating the work in a space, or collaboration with a music composer for a film or exhibition. She uses film as a medium to explore further meanings that can be derived from her object-based work and to experiment on visual-narration possibilities that explore the unconscious workings and the preverbal.
In her object-based work, suspense within the scene, linking to masochism, is a recurring element, whether within the object itself or in the scene of interaction with the audience. In her sculptures, she departs from the materials or making techniques that seduce, cause feelings such as anxiety or fascination with a hint of disturbance. Tactility of the object or within the making process is a definitive element in her 2D work too; such as linoleum print with carving process, instant photography capturing ‘scenes’, and the use of a needle in the textile work. Her performance work focuses on bringing out the tactile aspect of human-object relations.
Tuna’s work process is self reflective. She uses irony and humour as an outlet mechanism and examines what emotive and unconscious associations her work brings out in the audience and whether they trigger shifts in existing perceptions.
Besides her artistic practice; Tuna designs objects, games and rituals; and teaches product and fashion design. Represented by The Empire Project, her first solo show The Case of O: Scenes, Formulations, Derivations took place in İstanbul Küçük Mustafa Paşa Hamamı in 2022.
Selected shows and screenings include: Object*Oriented*Magic at the 5th Istanbul Design Biennial, Turkey (2020); Venus in Furs at Martch Art Project, Turkey (2019); Peculiar Pleasures at Milkwood Gallery, UK (2010), MA Human at Victoria & Albert Museum, UK (2010); A Belly Dance Performance and Exhibition, Istanbul Design Biennial- SALON (2012); SALON Istanbul Group Show, Netherlands (2012); Neo Couture at Fashion Space Gallery, UK (2009) and Post Pxrn Film Festival, Poland (2022), Satyrs and Maenads Porn Film Festival, Greece (2020), 2nd Istanbul Experimental Film Festival, Turkey (2019); 14th Berlin Porn Film Festival, Germany (2019), 16th !f Istanbul Independent Film Festival, Turkey (2017)