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2013 Cat Video Festival to welcome celebricats

The Walker Art Center's cat-tastically popular Internet Cat Video Festival, which has gone global in the year since it debuted, will return to Minnesota this summer during that most Minnesotan of all gatherings, the State Fair. The feline vidfest's celebrity cred will be on display in a big way--cat-loving New York-based comedy writer-performer, podcaster, and author Julie Klausner, whose How Was Your Week has been called "one of the few really essential podcasts" by the New York Times, will host the show.

More to the point, two of cat-videodom's megastars, Lil Bub and Grumpy Cat, have been signed for purr-sonal appearances at the event, according to Festival honcho Scott Stulen of the Walker. And a crowd of cat-video creators will be on hand as well, along with bands, artists' projects, a crew from Animal Planet, the event's cosponsor, and a good deal more.

Stulen has sent his 70-minute edit of last year's fest to cities ranging from Portland and Oakland to Vienna and Jerusalem, often accompanying the reel and taking part in the local showings, which have run the gamut from simple inclusion in film festivals to all-day catcentric celebrations.

It's fun, it's great publicity for the Walker, but is it art? "We're not trying to say that every cat video is art," says Stulen, "but anything that's getting this much response is culturally significant. And one role of the contemporary art museum is to comment on that."

For Stulen, the key to the Festival's runaway success has to do with how it's shifted the terms of the online experience.

"That we're taking online experience and putting it in a totally different context is another reason this has been successful," he says. "Some of the people who come to the festival have watched these videos hundreds of times. A lot of its appeal is watching things you're very familiar with, but watching it in a context of ten thousand people laughing or going "aww" at the same time. It's kind of like a concert of classic rock, where people want to hear the hits. I mean, people talk along with these videos!"

The State Fair Grandstand has, of course, seen its share of classic rock--but this August, the biggest headliners will have whiskers instead of greying headbanger hair. Ten-dollar tickets are available from the Fair.
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