Beyond Provenance

Beyond Provenance—a new symposium series at Princeton School of Architecture—explores the radically expanding site of architectural engagement; moving on the one hand toward extractive origins through research invested in narratives of untold exploitation, and on the other hand toward a perpetual futurity by practices engaged in material reuse. These positions are converging on material records in a moment of epistemological reevaluation. At the same time, the practices of documentation, transcription, and recording are collapsing the distinctions between the operations of the architect, archivist, cartographer, technician, and historian. The series unfolds over three sessions on three different dates, each examining the reorganization of contemporary research practices to ask new questions that address the temporal and spatial dilations of the field.

Convened by Erin Besler (Princeton University) and Sarah Hearne (University of Colorado, Denver), with programming assistance by Jocelyn Beausire.


On the processes of recording that allow a site to be known, and the ways it’s simultaneously grounded in documentation and connected to stories beyond its limits. 

  • Emanuel Admassu, Architect AD-WO, Assistant Professor Columbia GSAPP
  • Sylvia Lavin, Professor History and Theory of Architecture, Princeton SOA 
  • Gala Porras-Kim, Artist, Senior Critic Yale School of Art
  • Aurora Tang, Program Director, The Center for Land Use Interpretation
  • Zaneta Hong, Landscape Architect and Assistant Professor, Cornell


On forms of embodied information, including marks, traces, and other acts of revisioning, that offer alternative narratives on the lives of materials and those that engage with them.

  • Mark Wigley, Professor of Architecture, Columbia GSAPP
  • Karyn Olivier, Artist and Professor, Tyler School of Art, Temple University
  • Anna-Maria Meister, Professor KIT Karlsruhe, Co-Director saai Archive, Lise Meitner Group Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max-Planck-Institut
  • Fiona Connor, Artist, Los Angeles
  • Sonia Sobrino Ralston, Northeastern College of Arts, Media and Design (CAMD)


On the circulation of materials, their information footprint, and the ways records are constructed alongside processes of collecting, sorting, redistributing, and reusing material. 

  • Billy Dufala, Artist, Creative Director, RAIR at Revolution Recovery Waste Management 
  • Lori Wong, Conservator, Lecturer, Courtauld Institute of Art, Consultant, GCI 
  • Ang Li, Assistant Professor, Northeastern University, College of Arts, Media & Design
  • Albena Yaneva, Full Professor Politecnico di Torino, Italy
  • Aude-Line Dulière, Architect, Faculty, AA School
  • Michael Osman, Associate Professor, UCLA

Student Respondents and Contributors: Maxwell Smith-Holmes, Katie Solien, Loretta Koch, Pavan Vadgama, Nick Meehan, Yohana Ansari-Thomas, Will Dolin, Lee Onbargi, Hermine Demael, Jocelyn Beausire, Nigel Van Ha, Adie Mitchell, and Logan West. 

All events begin at 12pm at the Princeton School of Architecture. Each gathering includes presentations, discussion, food, refreshments, and remote site visits: to a terminal lake, a waste recovery station, an archive, or a demolition site. Because these are sites where records are written, they provide opportunities to reflect on tracing material histories and capturing embodied information today. Free and open to the public. These events will not be live-streamed, but we hope to make recordings available in future. Beyond Provenance is supported by a Princeton University Humanities Council Magic Grant.