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Imagine Review

Yoko and JohnI wasn’t going to post this review since it’s no longer at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts but why not? Our assignment was to go out and check out the exhibit and write our interpretation of it.

Giving peace a chance
by Sarah Leavitt

Yoko Ono once said: “By imagining peace, you are peace.” This simple sentence is the crux of the exhibition, Imagine: The Peace Ballad of John and Yoko, hosted by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts until June 21.

This is no average exhibition. Ono’s avant-garde style is obvious in the exhibition’s interactive approach. Presented with a variety of mediums, museum-goers are encouraged to hammer nails into the wall, write notes placed on trees, play the piano or chess, or simply lie back in bed; all at no cost. Throughout, the message of peace prevails.

The exhibition traces the history of Lennon and Ono’s relationship, from the fateful day they met in 1966 to the creation of their own country, ‘Nutopia,’ in 1972, all the while presenting their determined quest for peace. The exhibition also includes some of Ono’s work from the ‘90s. From room to room, the exhibits vary from personal photographs of Lennon and/or Ono to their peace advertisements that shout ‘WAR IS OVER!’ to the sound of their gentle whispers permeating each room. One gallery simply contains a replica of the iconic white piano played by Lennon along with sheet music to his song Imagine for visitors to play.

Perhaps the most interesting gallery contains a bed identical to the one from the couple’s famous bed-in at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel right here in Montreal. Complete with signs exclaiming ‘Hair Peace’ and ‘Bed Peace’, the bed faces projection of footage from the actual 1969 bed-in.
Young or old, this exhibition brings to life the hardships of the ‘60s and the peace movement that emerged as a consequence.

“I thought it was really well done,” said a 50-something museumgoer. “[The 1960s] was a time before the kind of war that we have now, a time where there was a lot of outrage in the world because of things that were happening. People felt the beginnings of what I would say we now see as a globalization. There was no Internet; we just felt pain that was coming from places like Vietnam because we were seeing pictures in the media of children running with their bodies on fire. That was something that was critical; that was a way that the world opened up to us. So I think people like John and Yoko were saying ‘This is where we have to say stop.’ There was a message that they were putting out.”

The exhibition, however, was not just for the actual witnesses of Lennon and Ono’s actions.

“I think it was interesting,” said an 18-year-old man. “ I liked the interactive features that they had…It actually brought you to the ‘60s, to see what it was like. There was such much detail; all the physical aspects of it. It makes it seem like you are actually living in that time period.”

Forty years from Lennon and Ono’s famous bed-in in Montreal, this exhibition serves as a celebration of both that revolutionary moment and the couple’s constant struggle to promote peace. It does not disappoint.

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