Mid-Week Intermission Artist Edition: Mia Florentine Weiss

If you’ve been anywhere near the Long Center lately (hopefully soaking up some sun!), you’ve probably noticed the very large sculpture hanging out under our Ring Beam. But don’t let what you see on the surface fool you — LOVE HATE, by artist Mia Florentine Weiss, is an “ambigram,” meaning either word can be read as “love” or “hate,” depending on how you view it. If you’re feeling like you need a change in perspective, today’s your lucky day — this Mid-Week Intermission checks in with Mia about the power of public art, the power of this particular piece, and why the message matters. 

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE JOURNEY 👉 This sculpture traveled the world before it landed right here in ATX. Many thanks to Google for helping us get LOVE HATE to the Long Center! Be sure to tag @longcenter in your pics.

MEET MIA FLORENTINE WEISS
Black and white photo showing Mia, a white German woman with blonde hair, standing with arms crossed in front of an architectural background

Long Center: Tell us a little bit about yourself as an artist, and your approach to creating art.

Mia When I was a teenager, I wrote the following:

I’m art
Says my heart
I’m a born idea
That’s why I’m here

My creativity was my greatest weapon — I collected words as well as objects (objet trouvé) to create something out of them. Growing up in an artistic household (my mother is a designer), in addition to creative days, life-drawing courses, workshops, etc., we were constantly shown new formats in which we children could make art. That shaped me — just like my time at the Free Waldorf school.

After graduating from high school, I found my main topic: What is your place of protection? or the primal human longing for security. Goethe’s Faust in us — love hate of life — the contradiction of things: beauty & horror, light & shadow, war & peace, past & future — is my inspiration. The “human,” the snapshot of a feeling to translate this into pictures / installations / artworks was my vocation, and eventually became my profession.

Long Center: How did the idea of LOVE HATE come to you? What’s the story behind this piece?

Mia: “LOVE HATE is everywhere!” There is a battle of extremes on both sides — for or against.

It seems as if we can only love or hate — do or do not — blaspheme or praise — kiss or romp — dance or stand still — be there or go — follow or lead — judgment or mercy — shame or harm?

That is why art in public space is so important to symbolize a change of perspective.

The LOVE HATE sculptures have been installed in over twenty European cities in cooperation with the EU’s culture committee, even in Moscow, and are now taking this transatlantic step thanks to the EU Delegation to the US and the German Embassy in Washington. We are also in dialogue with the Israeli Embassy and Mayor of Jerusalem.

From image to message to movement, from sculpture to social sculpture for all people. 

LOVE HATE reflects the turmoil but also the hope of the 21st century like no other work of art.

The sculpture, reddish brown "love" in front of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate with Mia sitting atop it

Long Center: As you said,  LOVE HATE has toured through many different countries before landing in Austin, and its message rings loud and clear given the cruelty happening in Ukraine. How has each location contributed to the message of the piece, and why is this an important message for Austin?

Mia: Art has always changed the world. It is a guarantor of democracy, freedom of expression, and a culture of debate. Artistic freedom as an indicator of democratic societies must always be defended. History shows that artists, like seismographs, sense social/econimic tensions and make them visible to the public through their works. That is why art in public space is the No. 1 exhibition platform that inspires us for a change of perspective.

Art + resistance/actionism = ARTIVISM! This is the answer to conflicts of the 21st century. In the terrible example of Ukraine, we see what people around the world are capable of doing to defend their democratic values (which include artistic freedom). They demonstrate, they show solidarity, they use WORD and deed, they improvise, they use their creativity, they create a common narrative and they are literally a living example of how an image can turn into a movement. That’s LOVE HATE for me. It’s not an artwork — it’s a revolution! We are all children of the revolution.

Austin is a super upcoming city in the US reflecting a NEW NOW. Just like Berlin was for Europe 10-20 years ago. Where better to install LOVE HATE than in the heart of Texas, where more free & creative spirit, like Austin, is needed? 

Mia stands in the middle of the LOVE HATE sculptures in the middle of a European city street

Long Center: What keeps you curious and creating? What ideas and messages will you explore next?

Mia: I’m a deep diver when it comes to humans and stories — every day gives me ideas & inspiration. In my case, it’s more a selection of information that I will decide on, whether this will be another Mona Lisa piece or not 😉

I cannot not work or reflect — my life is my art and the other way around. Even when I’m depressed. In fact, that’s great in many ways because pain is the petrol for creativity, right? So my advice: stop talking, start acting. Take your broken heart and turn it into art!

Long Center: What are you working on now? Any projects you can share with us?

Mia: Besides the European tour and the roadshow of LOVE HATE in the US, our studio is dealing with exhibitions, installations, and art fairs. As a personal, symbolic project right now — reflecting the war in Ukraine — I just built a giant NEW NOW for the city of Berlin in cooperation with an indpeendent new channel who broadcast from a media boat called Mediapioneer. Together we curated an online auction to sell it and donate all proceeds to journalists in the Ukraine.

Long Center: What do you hope people take with them from the piece?

Mia: A change of perspective — hopefully! That art is system relevant! The only way out of any absurdity is creativity!!

LOVE HATE sits under the Long Center ring beam with the Austin skyline in the background

KEEP IN TOUCH

At the Long Center, we’ve always got a new partnership or something cool we know you’ll want to check out! Find and follow us @longcenter on your social media platform of choice, and we’ll see you real soon.

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