Nothing Is More Political Than Fantasy: A LACMA Q&A With Guillermo Del Toro

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Famed fantasy/horror director/novelist Guillermo del Toro has had a lifelong obsession with monsters. His obsession can be seen in his impressive collection of art, books, posters, statues, busts, and other memorabilia lovingly stored and curated in what he calls Bleak House, a personal museum and creative shrine closed to the public and only accessible by a personal invitation from the man himself. del Toro, however, has decided to give fans a tiny peek at his collection through a new exhibit at LACMA.

Guillermo Del Toro: At Home With Monsters features nearly 500 objects from del Toro’s vast collection in his first museum retrospective.

“This exhibition presents a small fraction of the things that have moved me, inspired me, and consoled me as I transit through life,” said del Toro. “It’s a devotional sampling of the enormous love that is required to create, maintain, and love monsters in our lives.”

LACMA hosted a preview of the exhibit on Saturday July 30th along with a short Q&A session with del Toro, LACMA director Michael Govan, and exhibition curator Britt Salvesen. Below are a few quotes from the Q&A session with the director as well as a few photos from the exhibit (more at my Flickr).

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“This has been quite a journey. It sounded like a good idea a few years ago. I’m not a collector. I’m not a hoarder…because collectors know how the market is, they know how much everything is. They keep their comic books in little bags. They keep their toys neat in a box. I don’t know about that. I play with toys. I have a very promiscuous relationship with all the items from [Bleak House]. Basically, for me, that place for me is a shrine.”

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“When I was a child, I was raised Catholic but somewhere down the lines, I didn’t fit with the saints and the virgins and the holy men, so somewhere along those years, I fit in with the monsters. I saw in the creature of Frankenstein by Boris Karloff, I saw a beautiful, innocent creature in a state of grace that was sacrificed by sins he had not committed.”

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“I found in these monsters a very moving essence of outsiderness during which I identified fully. I also understood that the world as it was defined…was a complete lie. A complete fabrication. I knew it instinctively. I found that those monsters did not pretend to be something else and they presented themselves, in essence as well as in appearance, in a way that moved me, literally.”

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“I think that nothing is more political than fantasy because when a storyteller feels he or she is free from the constraints of reality, they show themselves more fully. Because we can always say…’oh, it’s just a story.’ But it isn’t. I think they tell us something very deep about ourselves. This, I think, the rubicon of where you stand, the defining line, is your view of monsters. If you see my movies over and over again, you will see that I love them. I absolutely love them.”

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“Humans, we are pretty repulsive. We are probably only bad because we live in the pretense. We have invented a series of fantasies that we have set socially that are absolutely terrifying like geography, gender, race, you know? These are accepted fictions with which we have managed to separate from each other. The beauty of monsters is that they require our acceptance and our love to survive. They represent- they are patron saints of otherness.”

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“The other thing I found as a very young kid is that I was very attracted to horror. Right now I’m 51 and I can say I’m not a horror filmmaker because I am attracted to the forms of horror, to the beauty and the greater poetry of horror but I’m not attracted to the mechanics and the devices of horror. I lie somewhere in between, in a crossroad between horror and fairytale. I think that my movies are fables that have the essence and the beauty of a horror movie.”

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“It is very important for me to be here [at LACMA] as a Mexican. Because I am very Mexican. When people say ‘what’s Mexican about your movies?’, I say ‘me!’ We love monsters! This time, the real monsters in our lives are in really finely tailored suits. It’s very important to tell them that we are a diverse and rich community…it is very important for me to say that I am Mexican and that I love monsters.”

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“There’s nothing more scary than people who are profoundly ignorant and profoundly certain.”

At Home With Monsters will be on display at LACMA’s Art of the Americas building until Nov. 27th.

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About Afroxander

Afroxander is the nom de guerre for writer/photographer Ivan Fernandez, based in Southern California. His work has appeared in The San Bernardino County Sun, Modern Fix magazine, The People’s Dance Party blog, The Rockit magazine and other outlets. He currently freelances for LA Weekly, Remezcla and anyone else willing to send him out on an exciting adventure.
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