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Montreal show looks at Lennon's bed-in,40 years on

MONTREAL (Reuters) - A large bed with white sheets is a central feature of a new exhibition marking the 40th anniversary of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “bed-in” for peace, a week-long protest against the Vietnam War.

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Visitors to the Montreal exhibition, “Imagine: The Peace Ballad of John & Yoko,” can lie on the oversized bed, listen to archive interviews and watch clips from the peaceful protest that Lennon and Ono conducted from their bed at the city’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel.

The show, at Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts, uses videos, sketches, photographs, and an omnipresent soundtrack of music and voices to examine the former Beatle’s “War is Over” campaign and his relationship with Ono.

“We’re coming up to the 40th anniversary of Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s bed-in in Montreal,” museum director Nathalie Bondil told Reuters.

“And reevaluating today what they were doing, we realize that it was not only an extremely radical artistic action...but also something that’s still pertinent in Montreal today to promote that same message of peace and love that John and Yoko were promoting 40 years ago.”

Ono, in Montreal for the exhibition’s early April opening, told Canadian and international media that the message from her 1969 protest with Lennon remained relevant.

“Thank you for making such a grand statement on world peace with your museum show, at this time when it is very, very much needed,” she said, her black silhouette standing out against the exhibit’s white surroundings.

Lennon, who was shot to death in New York in 1980, took his 1969 bed-in protest to Montreal from Amsterdam after it became clear he would be denied entry to the United States.

He and Ono checked into Room 1742 at the hotel on May 26, and stayed in bed for a week. On June 1st, they recorded the single “Give Peace a Chance” from the hotel room, accompanied, among others, by members of the local Hare Krishna temple.

The exhibition, which closes on June 21, showcases works of art by Lennon and Ono as well as more recent, interactive installations on the theme of peace, and on the context behind the Vietnam-era peace protest.

“It brings us back to a time which the baby-boomers experienced with intensity. It was a wonderful era,” Yves Robichon of Montreal said as he looked at archive photos of the couple’s stay.

Jerry Gruia, another visitor, said the art works by Lennon and Ono, were a welcome addition.

“I never realized that she was a talent unto herself, that’s a surprise,” he said. “I also never realized that he was such a good artist. Some of these pieces, these sketches, are wonderful.”

Editing by Janet Guttsman