Last night, for the first time, I attended the Walker Art Center’s vaunted Internet Cat Video Festival, along with more than 13,000 other people. You can see why they left the grounds of the Walker in Minneapolis and transferred over the more spacious CHS Field in St. Paul. Interesting how, without seeing any baseball, I’ve visited both the baseball stadiums in the Twin Cities this week! If with the extra space, the stadium was packed to the gills, I’ve rarely seen a larger crowd. I guess we really, really love cats and the internet in Minnesota for some reason. To confess, I’ve never owned, or lived, with a cat. That may change, but by myself, I am not inclined to share my living space with animals at the moment. Thankfully, I’m not allergic to them.
Still, many of my friends do, so I can experience the adorable and mischievous antics of the feline creatures through them. And I must admit, I was looking forward to seeing the internet’s favorite animal celebrated in such a fun, communal setting. The Internet Cat Video Festival, begun just a few years ago in 2012, has gotten really big, really fast. It even sold out this year! It is nice to have our metro know for such a distinctive, positive cultural event.
Hosted by Barb Abney, who spun a good number of cat themed tunes while people enjoyed the perfect August weather on the field, or in the bleachers. With local sponsors selling various cat related art and free cat treats, the Heart of the Beast Puppet Theater’s monstrous green cat lurching about with mouse minions, the Fest begun in a low key fashion. People of all ages were there to enjoy the videos and laugh at some cats.
Finally, the video reel came on at 8:30, curated by Will Braden, the creator of probably my favorite cat video series, Henri le Chat Noir. What makes cats arguably the premier motif of internet based art? Not sure, but the videos themselves spanned the entire gamut of human (and animal) experience, from absurdist humor, to pathos, to adventure. Some worked better than others, though the ones that had cats cued to musical numbers were my favorites. At the end, the vids culminated with the winner of the 2015 Golden Kitty Award. By that time, it was time to attempt to make an escape from the packed stadium. The tickets to the show doubled as admission to the Walker Art Center, so that’s a bonus. Always nice to have an excuse to visit!