Photo Taidekoti Kirpilä (c) Mariliis Rebane

Midnight Cowboy

Pohjoinen Hesperiankatu 7, 6. floor, 00260 Helsinki
Kirpilä Art Collection

Listening session: Midnight Cowboy

Listening session: Midnight Cowboy

The listening session of Freja Bäckman’s vinyl record Midnight Cowboy (2022) will be held as part of the exhibition "Years that repeat their days" at the Kirpilä Art Collection which is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

Freja’s work developed from the soundtrack of the film Midnight Cowboy (1969), which the artist found amongst Juhani (Jussi) Kirpilä and his partner Karl (Kalle) Rosenqvist’s records. The premiere of the movie was one month before the Stonewall uprising, thus during an important period in the LGBTQ+ liberation movement. The film focuses on a person who adopts the aesthetics of a cowboy when moving to a big city to conquer their dreams.

In the USA, the figure of the cowboy has conventionally been understood in relation to national identity and masculinity. However by the late 1960s perceptions were shifting, and the cowboy entity was becoming queered, particularly within white and masculine queer spheres. For the main character of the film, the cowboy costume carries a performative fragility as they try to pass as a heterosexual “stud”. Freja’s interest in working with the film came from the love that is clearly emerging between the two main characters. Yet, it seems as if the film presupposes resistance from the audience through presenting homophobic viewpoints throughout the narrative. Perhaps this was one strategy the director used to distract viewers from feeling certain about the true nature of the relationship. The narrative on the record Midnight Cowboy aims to complicate the notion of gender and queer relationships, and their collective memories.

The sound design of the record was made by Tari Doris.

Art House Kirpilä


4.9. in Finnish at 16.00, in English at 16.45

7.9. in English at 18.00, in Finnish at 18.45

Free entrance, no pre-enrollment, duration 30 min