Such is the power of the land depicted in these photographs, with the lightning-struck pines and truncated stumps and the rivers running red, where the whorls of rock and the whorls of stone and water and trees cast a furious, surging beauty. That is what Jim Mangan has captured in these pictures of both the changing boys and their changing world. —Judith Freeman
American photographer Jim Mangan began The Crick as a photographic survey of the unorthodox architecture of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) houses in the Utah-Arizona border town of Short Creek. He soon found that the bigger story lay in a group of teenage boys navigating their disintegrating community, fractured after leader Warren Jeffs was imprisoned in 2011. These subjects were children at the time of the fallout, who remained with their families in Short Creek as others elected to leave the town altogether.
The Crick is a meditation on religious succession, patriarchal systems, zealotry and fraternity in the life built by these young men. Mangan’s pictures transport the reader into an alternate reality of the boys’ making: where they explore the rugged terrain of southern Utah, northern Arizona and southern Nevada on horseback, emulating old-time explorers of the Western frontier. His “ecological and sociological approach” to this series, spanning five years, depicts the playfulness of youth against the capricious landscape of the American West. In both their real and imaginary worlds, these subjects have gained a knowledge of and closeness to nature that has largely been lost in the conventions of modern life.