Guillermo del Toro, right. Photo: Minneapolis Institute of Art

Guillermo del Toro, left. Photo: Minneapolis Institute of Art

Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro has created horrific visions of the past and future. He shifted focus to dark present day issues in a wide-ranging conversation at Saturday's preview of his Minneapolis Institute of Arts show "At Home With Monsters."

The exhibition features hundreds of items from his personal treasure trove, macabre works inspired by Mexican-born artist's films and classic movies, paintings and literature that inspired him.

Historical reigns of terror are another matter he knows well. Having explored Spain's fascist past through fantasy with "The Devil's Backbone" and "Pan's Labyrinth," and Nazi Germany in the "Hellboy" films, del Toro is familiar with belligerent nationalism unchecked by factual debate and long-standing democratic norms.

”It is the strangest time in the history of western civilization,” he said. “Without a doubt.”

“It is because we have endeavored ourselves to dismantle” the two direct opposites “of truth and lie.”

“They don’t exist anymore. Everything has been relativized by both extremes. We are losing our compass very fast. And it’s incredibly scary. Because there is no north and no south.”

“If I disagree with you and I rule out that you are undesirable for what you believe,” sexual orientation, “how you dress or where you come from, that is incredibly horrifying to me. So we live in times right now that are …  completely insane. Completely insane.”

It was life’s irrational snake pits that drew him to films about the supernatural. “For me fantasy is not, as many people say, the way to escape the world. From the oldest time fantasy has been the one tool that has allowed us to grasp the world we live in.”

“For me fantasy is a way to make peace with a whole side of our existence and our cosmos that any other sane thing does not deal with. We have many dimensions in our lives. One is social, one is political. We have to be involved in that. One is as a citizen and another is as an artist.”

“To me a country with a bad government is not a tragedy.  A country with bad citizens is a tragedy. As long as the citizenship stays alert and awake and demanding, there is a glimmer of hope.”

“Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters” shows through May 28 at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2400 Third Ave. S., Minneapolis. Admission to the museum is free; tickets to this show are $20; $16 for members.

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