Charles Phoenix's performance piece "God Bless Americana" is a simple, elegant example of theater on a budget.
From batches of "found" slides of strangers' vacations unearthed in thrift stores, Phoenix assembled a retro tour of the USA during the late 1950s and early '60s, strung together by a wry narration. In so doing, he takes the already surreal experience of looking through someone else's photo album to another level--a vicarious experience of Phoenix vicariously experiencing other people's vacations.
Starting from Hollywood, Phoenix charts a journey to the East Coast through the South, ending up at the New York World's Fair. Collapsed time frames and a northern return route allow us to join Alaska's statehood celebration and the Seattle World's Fair, culminating in a Hawaiian detour.
Through its visual barrage of vintage cars, clothes and ubiquitous ambrosia fruit salads, the plunge into kitschy period aesthetics is wickedly funny, though overlong for the thin premise--cutting about 20 slides would help.