Jonas Englert

Zoon Politikon, 2014 (work in progress)
7 channel video installation
each 50 min
Courtesy Galerie Anita Beckers

In his ongoing long-term project Zoon Politikon, a multi-channel video installation, Jonas Englert presented personalities from politics, science and art who have initiated, and helped shape the history of, social upheavals and revolutions in Frankfurt and Germany. In fifty-minute films, Englert created intense portraits with unusual closeness to the protagonists.

In Zoon Politikon, Jonas Englert spoke with founders of German science, cultural and social policy. He shows them in all their wealth of experience, as narrators of a recent past to which they are intimately connected. The work uses the Aristotelian concept of the political being, the zoon politicon, to examine the idea of the polis; a state model that can function as a civic community, which defines itself solely through its members rather than being based on the criterion of territory.

Englert presented protagonists from a recent past. They tell of themselves in retrospect, as individuals who, through their actions, have moved from the private sphere into public visibility and thus become part of collective history and now memory.

Englert developed a uniformly strict design concept and setting for this work. A consistent list of questions, which was discussed before recording, and a fifty-minute uninterrupted period for each participant formed the basis of each interview. The black-and-white image first neutralizes the individuality of the protagonists, only to then highlight it all the more through the camera’s close-up and rigid focus on the speaking face. Englert employed active listening to create and potentiate an atmosphere of trust in which the speakers could freely develop their monologue and thought process. The classic close-up camera angel created the illusion of closeness and intimacy with the subject. The viewers enter into direct eye contact with the person. In addition to their narration of a collective historical past, the individual language and facial expressions of the first-person narrators provide further visual information about an epoch.

The focus of the interview is on life as a political person. Englert addresses the human being as a political animal, defined by Aristotle in his writing Politika as a being that forms community(ies). As a being that assumes responsibility, both in the context of its immediate social environment and in the higher social structure of the state.


Jonas Englert (*1989, Friedberg, DE) studied art with Prof. Heiner Blum and Prof. Alexander Oppermann at the University of Art and Design Offenbach (DE). For the winter semester of 2012/2013 he studied applied theatre studies with Prof. Heiner Goebbels at the Justus-Liebig-Universität

Gießen (DE). Since 2018 the artist has been a prizewinner of the Frankfurter Künstlerhilfe. In 2019 Englert was also awarded with the theory prize of the Marielies Schleicher Foundation. Furthermore, he created various video works for theatre productions, amongst others for the National Theatre Mannheim, Mannheim (DE), the State Playhouse Dresden, Dresden (DE), the Hannover State Theater, Hanover (DE) and the Theater Bonn, Bonn (DE). His works are part of the collections of the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C. (US), the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (US) and private collections.

The artist has exhibited in the following institutions (selection):
Gallery Anita Beckers, Frankfurt am Main (DE), Jewish Film Festival, Frankfurt am Main (DE), Berlin Art Week, Collection Ivo Wessel, Berlin (DE), Tongji University, Shanghai (CH), Virus Galerie, Frankfurt am Main (DE), Marburger Kunstverein, Marburg (DE), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (US), 1822-Forum, Frankfurt am Main (DE)