After traveling to over a dozen cities in Europe since 2019, the “LOVE HATE” sculpture by German artist Mia Florentine Weiss is finally returning to its birthplace.
The sculpture—located at Washington’s Farragut Square—is an ambigram, meaning it can be interpreted in different ways when flipped around. It appears as the word “love” from one point of view, but as “hate” in a mirror image, and vice-versa. The two words, crafted from steel, each measure more than seven feet tall and about 16 feet long.
“The idea was born in the sky when I was coming to the United States for the first time when I was 18,” Weiss said to the Washington Diplomat. “I always wrote stuff on my hand, so I saw the reflection of ‘I love you’ in the window. It kind of reminded me of ‘I hate you’ because I was at emotional crossroads at the time. I had this vision of turning this design from one side to the other… and when I landed, I started to put it into a design.”
Weiss unveiled her creation at a Nov. 9 ceremony co-sponsored by the German Embassy, the Delegation of the European Union and the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District (BID). Weiss and her team chose the date for its significance in German history; it marked 84 years since Krystallnacht—Night of the Broken Glass—and 32 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
“In German history, this day is known for very different reasons that are actually polar opposites… and it’s a powerful reminder of what the ambigram love and hate can actually translate into,” German Ambassador Emily Haber said in a prepared statement.
The event, which attracted about 200 people, began with a welcome from Leona Agouridis, executive director of the Golden Triangle BID, a nonprofit that fosters economic development through building projects, events, public art and more in a 44-square block neighborhood that stretches from Pennsylvania Avenue to Dupont Circle.
Haber and EU Ambassador Stavros Lambrinidis then joined Weiss in cutting the ribbon on the seven-foot, 1.5-ton steel sculpture, which will remain in Farragut Park through March.
“[Mia] asked me if I wanted to be patroness of her project and I immediately agreed because I feel that it’s more than an incredible art piece, it’s a vision,” said German politician Sawsan Chebli, a friend of Weiss. “It’s a message of choosing empathy instead of ignorance and solidarity instead of indifference. Love instead of hate reminds me of how privileged I am to live in a country that is a safe space for me.”
The ceremony concluded with an exclusive interview by sculptor Philippa Hughes, who talked to Weiss about her inspiration for this project and her path to success as an artist.
“Looking at how something can change based on your perspective is powerful,” said Lynn Borton, who attended the ceremony. “I think this art is an important reminder that seeing things in a different light over time is a good lesson.”
Notable attendees included Wonder Woman actress Lynda Carter; Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s former foreign minister; and John Emerson, a former US ambassador to Germany, who also brought his wife, Kimberly Marteau Emerson, and their twin daughters, Hayley and Taylor Emerson. The twins performed their own song—“Love is So Much More”—during the event.
“For us, love is about making a choice,” said Hayley Emerson. “In writing this song for Mia, you can’t have [love or hate] without having the other, but by making the choice to love, you can have a positive impact on the world.”
Next spring, the Love Hate exhibit heads to Austin, Texas, for the South by Southwest art and film festival. Weiss says she hopes her sculpture will then continue on a US tour for the next several years, beginning in New York after it leaves Austin.
“This is my personal American dream come true… like my child coming home to where it was born,” said Weiss. “You cannot plan something like this. It’s a miracle made by the right time, the right people, the right message. We have not only artwork, but we have a giant message on the street that doesn’t differentiate between color, background, or status. It’s totally equal and it’s accessible and it’s for everyone.”