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Viral cat videos as art? The Walker Art Center says yes

August 31, 2012|By Jamie Wetherbe
  • The viral video Keyboard Cat was screened as part of the Walker Art Center's Internet Cat Video Film Festival."
The viral video Keyboard Cat was screened as part of the Walker Art Center's… (YouTube )

The Walker Art Center, a modern art museum in Minneapolis, tested the boundaries of legitimate art at the first film festival dedicated to, well, online cat videos.

The show included 70 videos of kitty high jinks over 60 minutes (take a moment to let that sink in). Included were the "Keyboard Cat" and "Very Angry Cat," which have racked up more than 100 million views on YouTube between them.

A crowd of 10,000 people (and a few leashed cats) gathered Thursday night for the outdoor feline fest at the Walker, where the works of Frank Gehry and Joseph Cornell have been displayed.

Organizers called the Internet Cat Video Film Festival an artistic as well as a social experiment that questioned if the guilty pleasures viewed in private could translate to a public affair.

"It is a cultural phenomenon that raises some interesting questions," said Katie Hill, a self-described "art historian and cat lady" and the Walker program associate who first suggested the festival. "I'm not a behavioral psychologist, I'm not a sociologist. I just think they're funny and cute, and I think a lot of other people do too."

The festival received thousands of submissions and featured "nine CAT-egories," including drama, animated and art house, with winners taking home the "golden kitty" and other awards.

The people’s choice award went to the black-and-white French short "Henri 2, Paw de Deux," which starred an emotionally dark, black-and-white cat who struggles with life's meaning and, at the end, the cat door.

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