In The Thing Between Us, the artist takes Turkey’s headscarf ban since 1997 as the past experience to be confronted, a moment of lived collective memory that many women in Turkey can relate to. By presenting the work in VR, Elif is able to explore psychodrama and the act of seeing from someone else’s perspective by having viewers literally put on eye gear to enter a virtual subjectivity. This allows them to shed one’s own body, embody other subjectivities and understand the artist’s perspective. Using VR as a tool to understand each other, Elif strives to create human empathy and love in a world of divisions and urges viewers to see veiled women, not as a politically charged ideology implemented onto a body, but as humans first.
In the video, we are also confronted with another type of gaze: that from the crowd of people staring at the artist and then turning their gaze onto the viewer themself who is forced to feel the weight of societal gaze. The jarring mood in the work was intended by the artist, who aims to highlight the objectification of veiled women, transforming this subtle and subjective experience of the gaze into a concrete one.