top of page

The Martin E. Segal Theater Center presents

Maria Klassenberg

At the Segal Theatre Film and Performance Festival 2024

A film by

Magda Hueckel, Tomasz Śliwiński

Theater, Documentary, Film, Performance Art

This film will be screened in-person on May 16th and also be available to watch online May 16th onwards for 3 weeks.

About The Film




Polish, English

Running Time



Year of Release


The film created by the Academy Award nominees: Magda Hueckel and Tomasz Śliwiński is a biographical mockumentary about Maria Klassenberg, a forgotten pioneer of performance art. All of her life the artist has created and presented her works in her apartment in Warsaw. The action of the film takes place at the opening of an exhibition, where the artist’s radical works from the ‘70s and the ‘80s, that up to that point had been seen by the family and friends only, are presented to the wider audience for the first time. The moment Maria Klassenberg’s works finally are discovered by the art world is at the same time the culmination of her personal conflict with her daughter - Aneta Klassenberg, the curator of the exhibition. For Aneta, Maria’s exhibition is a compensation for the lost childhood and the only way to rebuild a close relationship with her mother. The unsettled past shared by the mother and daughter becomes the artist’s final work. Maria Klassenberg has never existed, which doesn’t mean she’s not real. She represents all female artists who haven’t had a chance to make their mark on the art market controlled by men. Her biography and artistic portfolio has been created by a group of Polish theatre and visual art artists: the concept and the very character of Maria Klassenberg has been created by Katarzyna Kalwat (theatre director), with the help form Anda Rottenberg (a curator and one of the protagonists of the film) and Joanna Zielińska, and the archive of the artist’s works from the ‘70s and the ‘80s has been developed by Aneta Grzeszykowska and Jan Smaga. The film features fragments of famous performances from the 20th century, that resonate with Klassenberg’s works. On the one hand this documentary is an artistic recording of the performance-exhibition directed by Katarzyna Kalwat but on the other hand it’s a provocation attempt: how will the modern world of art, which declares gender equity, react to a fictitious female artist who combines in her works feministic motifs found in the 20th century art?

Feature Image Credits: Aneta Grzeszykowska, From the Maria Klassenberg archives, 1970-1980, 2019. Cooperation: Jan Smaga. Performers: Anna Rutkowska, Wojciech Żera

directors: Magda Hueckel & Tomasz Śliwiński
camera: Tomasz Śliwiński, Magda Hueckel, Robert Gajzler, Bartosz Zawadka
editing: Tomasz Śliwiński
scenography, costumes, lighting: Anna Tomczyńska
music: Wojtek Blecharz
sound design: Mateusz Adamczyk
sound on the set: Mateusz Adamczyk, Kuba Kozłowski
graphic design: Magda Hueckel
color correction: Lunapark MARIA KLASSENBERG | AN EXHIBITION
direction and concept of the art performance: Katarzyna Kalwat
text and dramaturgy: Beniamin Bukowski
cast: Natalia Kalita, Urszula Kiebzak
special appearance by: Anda Rottenberg
performers: Tomasz Tyndyk, Justyna Wasilewska
consecutive interpreting into English language: Artur Zapałowski
production managers: Maria Herbich, Magda Igielska
production cooperation: Karolina Pająk
producers: Małgorzata Cichulska, Magda Igielska, Agata Kołacz, Roman Pawłowski
production: TR Warszawa, 2022
director: Natalia Dzieduszycka
artistic director: Grzegorz Jarzyna
organizer: Capital City of Warsaw

The project is produced with the support of The Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation PRODUCTION OF THE EXHIBITION AND THE PERFORMANCES “Maria Klassenberg. An Exhibition.”
direction and concept: Katarzyna Kalwat
text and dramaturgy: Beniamin Bukowski
set design, costumes and lighting: Anna Tomczyńska
music: Wojtek Blecharz
cooperation: Anna Grzelewska, Joanna Zielińska
venue: Raster Gallery in Warsaw date: 14.11.2020

“Mirror – reconstruction of an undocumented performance by Maria Klassenberg”
direction and concept: Katarzyna Kalwat
text and dramaturgy: Beniamin Bukowski
set design, costumes and lighting: Anna Tomczyńska
performers: Justyna Wasilewska, Tomasz Tyndyk

In the film, fragments of the following works were used:

“Maria Klassenberg’s Archive, 1970-1980 (MIRRORING / DRAWING CLASSES / NO / CONSUME /


concept, script, development: Aneta Grzeszykowska

performers (archive): Anna Rutkowska, Wojciech Żera

cooperation: Jan Smaga

TR Warszawa would like to thank Joanka Zielińska for the artistic collaboration on te development of the project

About The Artist(s)

Magda Hueckel, Tomasz Śliwiński

MAGDA HUECKEL: A visual artist, set designer, scriptwriter, creator of documentaries, and theatre photographer. She is a graduate of the Faculty of Painting and Graphic Design of the Fine Arts Academy in Gdańsk. Her works have been presented at over 40 individual and over 60 group exhibitions in Poland and abroad (including Tate Britain in London, Circulation in Paris, Unseen Amsterdam, Vienna Art Fair). Her works can be found in the National Museum in Wrocław and in numerous private collections. Hueckel is the author of “Anima. Pictures from Africa 2005–2013” and “HUECKEL/THEATRE” (nominations for the 2014 and 2016 Photographic Publication of the Year Awards). She has documented a few hundred theatre performances. Hueckel was awarded scholarships by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage and the City of Sopot and she’s a laureate of the Sopot Muse for Young Artists award. From 2002 until 2004 she was a part of the photographic duo known as hueckelserafin, together with Agta Serafin. She is the Chairwoman and co-founder of the CCHS Foundation of Poland “Lift the Curse”, which was awarded EURORDIS Black Pearl Award 2020. Hueckel is the curator and producer of the “Ondinata. Songs for Ondine” project.

TOMASZ ŚLIWIŃSKI: a director and scriptwriter. Graduate of the Directing Department at the Warsaw Film School and Feature Development Lab Programme at the Wajda School. His short movie “Our Curse” (2013) has won many prizes at film festivals all over the world and was nominated for the IDA Award granted by the International Documentary Association. He is a laureate of the “Young Poland” Scholarship Programme (2015) awarded by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage and a scholarship awarded by the City of Warsaw (2019). Śliwiński is a member of the Documentary Directors Guild of Poland and the Vice President of CCHS Foundation of Poland “Lift the Curse”. He is the co-curator and producer of a music project “Ondinata. Songs for Ondine”.

Magdalena Hueckel and Tomasz Śliwiński often collaborate on the production of films and artistic projects - Magda Hueckel writes the scripts and is the art director, and Tomasz Śliwiński is the director. Their documentary “Our Curse” was nominated for the Academy Award and won a few dozen awards at international festivals. Hueckel and Śliwiński created together a short film “Ondine” (2019) and short film series titled “Plague Chronicles” (2020). The series won the main prize at the DIG IT contest for the best theatrical activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their last production was “Stary” - the documentary about the National Stary Theatre in Cracow.

KATARZYNA KALWAT: A director, graduate of Psychology Faculty at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow and the Directing Department at the Aleksander Zelwerowicz Academy of Dramatic Art in Warsaw, holder of scholarships granted by the French Government. Her works often originate from archive explorations and focus on researching the mechanisms of memory and postmemory. She directed a performance titled “Holzwege” (produced by TR Warszawa, 2016), which won the Grand Prix at the 22nd National Competition for Staging Contemporary Polish Plays, and “Reykjavik ’74” (The Wilam Horzyca Theatre in Toruń, 2017), which won the Second Prize at the 19th National Festival of Directing Art “Interpretations” in Katowice. The director is interested in processual forms, works that combine various fields of art, and researching the common ground between performance art and theatre. Katarzyna Kalwat has directed many theatre performances including, among others: “Landschaft. Anatomy Lesson” based on Waronika Murek’s text (The Julius Słowacki Theatre in Cracow, 2017), “Grotowski non fiction” created in cooperation with the visual artist Zbigniew Libera (Contemporary Theatre in Wroclaw and the Jan Kochanowski Theatre in Opole, 2019), an opera composed by Wojtek Blecharz, titled “Rechnitz. The Exterminating Angel” based on a drama by the Nobel Prize winner - Elfriede Jelinek (TR Warszawa, 2019), “Staff Only” project created in cooperation with foreign artists living in Poland (coproduced by Biennale Warszawa and TR Warszawa), “Return to Reims” inspired by Didier Eribon’s book and based on Beniamin Bukowski’s script (Nowy Teatr in Warsaw/Teatr Łaźnia Nowa in Cracow, 2020), and “Maria Klassenberg” (TR Warszawa in cooperation with Galeria Raster, 2020). Kalwat is a laureate of “O!Lśnienia 2021” Cultural Award granted by Onet and the City of Cracow. One of her latest performances is titled “Art of Living” and is inspired by Georges Perec’s “Life: A User’s Manual” (The Helena Modrzejewska National Stary Theatre in Cracow, 2022).

ANETA GRZESZYKOWSKA: Born 1974, visual artist. She uses photography and video, focusing on their performative aspect. The leitmotif of her work is the analysis of the processes of self-creation, one of the key themes of art and a fundamental issue for the condition of today’s post-media society. Aneta Grzeszykowska examines the possibility of escaping from identity-shaping cultural and artistic stereotypes. She deconstructs her own image and manipulates it, eventually reaching for its sculptural substitutes. She thus comes closer to the conclusion that self-creation is merely another way of struggling against the mortal nature of the body. Aneta Grzeszykowska has participated in a number of important international exhibitions, such as the Venice Biennale (2022), the Berlin Biennale (2006) and La Triennale in Paris (2012). She has exhibited, among others, at the New Museum and Sculpture Center in New York, Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis, the Folkwang Museum in Essen and the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. Her solo exhibition at Zachęta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw earned her the renowned Polityka’s Passport award (2014). Her works are held in prestigious museum collections, including: Center Pompidou in Paris, Salomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw and Museum of Art in Łódź. She is affiliated with Galeria Raster in Warsaw and Lyles & King in New York. She runs the Performative Photography studio at the Academy of Art in Szczecin.

Get in touch with the artist(s)
and follow them on social media
Find out all that’s happening at
Segal Center Film Festival on Theatre and Performance (FTP) 2024
by following us on
FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube
See the full festival schedule here.
bottom of page