Provenance is a term used in art history to refer to the record of an artwork’s life after its creation: the paper trail it has left through time showing who has purchased it, sold it, moved it, restored it, displayed it. Provenance’s intertwined stories use the things we leave behind, both physical and digital, to explore absence, mother-daughter relationships, formative friendships, and personal identities.
Jane is a middle-aged woman whose mother-in-law, an artist named Francie, has just passed away unexpectedly, leaving her home to be cleared out. As she sorts through a lifetime of belongings and paintings, she continues to learn more about the woman who was like a mother to her, the woman she previously felt she knew completely. The process of mourning Francie introduces new complexities to her relationship with her husband, Andrew, and daughter, Rosie.
Ellen is finishing her freshman year of high school while attempting to deal with the absence of her best friend Aleaya, who is spending the summer at a mental health rehabilitation facility. Ellen soon discovers that she has access to a secret Instagram account Aleaya had once logged into on her phone and realizes that there are things she doesn’t know about her best friend. While investigating Aleaya’s curated digital presence, Ellen comes face to face with her own expectations about intimacy, friendship, and support.
When Ellen, a previous student of Francie’s, is volunteered by her mother to help Jane clean out Francie’s studio, the two form a significant connection. Despite the difference in their circumstances, Jane and Ellen both discover ways to navigate life after loss, and the sometimes unexpected ways we continue to exist in the things and people we leave behind.