We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the website. Learn more about out privacy policy.


The Thousand-Year Plan

Curator: Natalia Sielewicz

Electrical current measures the new time

Agnieszka Polska’s latest work, "The Thousand-Year Plan", will fill the eleven-metre-high exhibition hall of the Museum on the Vistula. Shown on two screens, the film talks about the electrification of Polish countryside in the years following WWII. On the one hand, it is a history of modernization and emancipation, and on the other – a poetic expression of anxieties resulting from the protagonists’ entanglement in a moment of technological breakthrough, in which “electrical current measures the new time.”

The impressive video installation features respected theatre and film actors, including Jaśmina Polak, Bartosz Gelner, Piotr Polak and Julian Świeżewski, and the voice of Antonina Nowacka, voice and sound artist.


The History of electrification

The exhibition consists of a video installation, on show at the Museum on the Vistula until 19 September 2021, and a number of accompanying events taking place both at the Museum and online. Visitors will be able to take part in the Electric Summer School Symposium featuring the sociologist Benjamin Bratton, philosophers Mckenzie Wark, Bogna Konior and Katarzyna Czeczot, and watch “Iskra TV” [Spark TV] — a series of short films created by experts, such as the post-war energy engineer Jacek Szyke or the researcher of electrifciation Rafał Zasuń, introducing the history of electrification and its socio-political contexts.


Nature, time, and technology

Set in the 1950s, Polska’s film introduces four characters from the peasantry on two opposite screens: a couple of engineers working on the electrification of rural areas and two partisans hiding in the surrounding forests. The dialogue reveals a kaleidoscope of emotions: hope for a better tomorrow, faith in progress, but also fear and a sense of loneliness. Although they all imagine the new world differently, they are united by an awareness of living through a turning point in history. Nature, time, and technology –emphasized via digital animations in the symbolic layer of the piece — are the film’s other, equally important heroes.


Illuminating darkness

Agnieszka Polska’s film is an innovative look at the first post-war years. From its inception, electricity aroused both fear and delight. “Illuminating darkness” was seen as a supernatural driving force, or – as socialist electricians would have it – “the secret stolen from lightning.” In the interwar period, just 1 village out of 100 was electrified. It wasn’t until 1950 that universal electrification became an official objective of the central government. By embedding her protagonists in post-war history, Polska poses the most relevant questions: how is access to infrastructure empowering, and in what ways does its lack exclude from modernization? Which social groups and institutions control technology and impose the agenda for collective life?


Magical socialist realism

Referring to the poetics of the exhibition, the curator Natalia Sielewicz proposes the term “magical socialist realism,” because Polska treats technology and modernization as fully fledged heroines of her narratives. She does not separate them from nature, but even strengthens this non-obvious association. The artist employs evocative imagery, powerful soundtrack and poetic narrative to convey the most universal emotions: longing, fear, hope, and the feeling of loss. In this way, she portrays technology as a sensory and spiritual experience adjacent to dream worlds, imaginations, supernatural phenomena and mystical rituals, thanks to which “night turns into day.” Following the philosopher Yuk Hui, the artist suggests looking at technology, the natural environment and human thought as a global, entwined system of interrelated elements and moving away from the linear understanding of progress and divisions between what is modern and traditional, natural and artificial.



Rafał Zasuń
The Senior Committee Member Smashes the Kerosene Lamp

The people who built Poland’s power plants and grids after World War II often grew up in homes lit by candles and kerosene lamps. Zbigniew Bicki, an engineer at the power plants in Kozienice and Połaniec, and later CEO of the transmission system operator Polskie Sieci Elektroenergetyczne after the democratic transition, recalls the excitement that accompanied the electrification of his village:

“I grew up without electricity. The light bulb in my parents’ house didn’t flicker on until I was in my last year of elementary school, in the fall of 1960, or maybe the spring of 1961. Before that, there was no power in my hamlet outside the village of Garbów, near Lublin.”

Full text

Download PDF

Przemysław Wielgosz
Plus electrification

Technological revolution is an inherent aspect of modernization. Ever since the Enlightenment, modernization has been a process in which innovation and affirmation of technology have played an essential role. They were seen as the main factor of progress driving social and economic change. This is also the case today. In this sense, the forces supporting the modernist project have learned nothing from Lenin’s famous assertion: “Communism is Soviet power plus electrification.” They fetishize different variants of the second part, while forgetting the first, key part of the sentence.

Full text

Download PDF

Natalia Sielewicz
The secret stolen from lightning. Magical socialist realism in Agnieszka Polska’s work

Electricity and accompanying inventions such as the magnetic telegraph, daguerreotype, and radio are technologies of immediate, disembodied presence. When the night turned into day, as a result of the mutual attraction between the world of science and esotericism and metaphysics, between the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 20th century, a new order emerged. It interpreted the body, nervous system, and consciousness in dialogue with technology and information systems. Metaphorically and quite literally, a “damp atmosphere” accompanied this romance. While the founder of the concept of magnetism and mesmerism, Franz Anton Mesmer, attempted to restore the balance of vital fluids in patients by moving magnets over their bodies, during spectacular electricity shows, 18th-century scientists would light liquid in a metal cup with a spark from their finger, and physician Anthony Carlisle together with engineer William Nicholson, using a small galvanic battery, would decompose the water into its component parts. A century later, when the wet collodion technique was developed, the photographic image would sharpen in mercury vapour. Physical mediums spurted ectoplasm, an ethereal substance, thanks to which spirits could materialize through their bodies (at least according to them).

Full text

Download PDF

Aldona Kopkiewicz
The current between us

Supposedly, technology is the magic of our era in the way poetry once was. One could even say that technology has become magic as poetry ceased to be. But what do I actually mean by magic here? A person with magical abilities reigns over a certain energy and — with its help — is able to alter reality, often against the laws of nature. We do not know how they are able to do this; the source of their power remains secret. Obviously then, technology just imitates magic — its origins, rules, and workings are publicly available and anyone who understands its language and obtains the tools can reproduce them. The problem is that because this knowledge is so cutting-edge and human experience of modern technologies is so rapid, that to us, it just seems to be magic. Technology is magic for our skin and eyes, for our senses and experiences. Today, we could ask whether poetry did really have any greater supernatural powers?  What was this power, exactly? Perhaps people once reallybelieved in its divine origins, the enchanting abilities and arcane links with fairy tales. In her work, Agnieszka Polska preserves the memory of poetry’s properties and restores its magical potential exactly via technological means. At the same time, reaching for the poetic, the artist deconstructs modern instrumental rationalism, leading the viewer towards not so much enchantment, but a different, and more complex and accessible wisdom. 

Full text

Download PDF


Written and Directed by

Agnieszka Polska


Natalia Sielewicz

Produced by

Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw

Enabled by

Art Collection Telekom

Production manager

Dagmara Konsek-Pfüller

Set Manager

Janusz Dąbkiewicz


Bartosz Gelner, Jaśmina Polak, Piotr Polak, Julian Świeżewski, Antonina Nowacka

Director of Photography

Radek Ładczuk

Focus Puller

Maciej Piórek

Camera Assistant

Piotr Twardowski

Steadicam Operator

Maciej Tomków

Set assistant

Robert Senderowski

Script / Continuity

Irma Blumstock

Lighting Gaffer

Łukasz Carek

Lighting Assistant

Daniel Ługowski

Location Sound

Igor Kłaczyński, Jan Moszumański


Katarzyna Kolbowska

Costume and Set Designers

Aga Klepacka, Maciek Chorąży

Make-up Artist

Aleksandra Dutkiewicz

Hair Stylist

Kacper Raczkowski

Location Scouts

Maria i Grzegorz Polscy

Film Editing

Agnieszka Polska

Special Effects

Nathan Gray


Agnieszka Polska

Sound Design

Igor Kłaczyński, Katarzyna Kolbowska, Izabela Wiejaczka

Original score

Agnieszka Polska

Color grading

Gregor Pfüller


Venla Helenius

Research Assistant

Shahira Issa

Historical Consulting

Rafał Wnuk

Photo equipment

MX35 Camera Rental


Elka Król, Wojciech Ostałowski

The film was produced by the Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw and enabled by Art Collection Telekom.


Project management

Joanna Turek, Paweł Wójcik

Key visual

Karolina Pietrzyk, Gilbert Schneider


Aldona Kopkiewicz, Natalia Sielewicz, Przemysław Wielgosz, Rafał Zasuń


Arthur Barys, Joanna Figiel, Piotr Szostak


Marta Bartkowska, Józefina Bartyzel, Aleksandra Długołęcka, Aleksandra Urbańska, Iga Winczakiewicz

Public program coodrinator

Paweł Nowożycki

Educational program

Paweł Brylski, Dominika Jagiełło, Marta Przasnek, Marta Przybył, Jolanta Woch i zespół edukacji „Użyj Muzeum”


Jakub Antosz, Marek Franczak, Jacek Frysztak, Piotr Frysztak, Adam Graczyk, Szymon Ignatowicz, Aleksander Kalinowski, Robert Kania, Paweł Sobczak, Marcin Szubiak

Exhibition guide




Managing editor

Kacha Szaniawska

Exhibition partners

The Museum is funded by

Logo Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sport

The premises and selected projects are funded by the City of Warsaw

Logo City of Warsaw

Patron of the Museum and the Collection

Logo EY

Strategic Partner of the Museum

Logo Ergo Hestia Logo Hestia Artistic Journey

Legal advisor


Partner of the exhibition

Logo Deutsche Telekom Logo Huncwot

Media cooperation

Logo Vogue Logo Tygodnik Powszechny Logo Szum