Home Alone: The Surreal Lonely Houses of Instagram Artist Manuel Pita

Pat Finn Pat Finn

“Seeking everyday magic.”

This is the tagline for Manuel Pita’s Instagram page (@sejkko). In this reporter’s opinion, however, the sentiment is too humble: Sejkko doesn’t find everyday magic as much as he uses his artistry to infuse magic into the everyday. The tool he uses to achieve his alchemy is one that will be familiar to architects: natural light.

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The page features outdoor shots almost exclusively, most of them in full daylight, but some also during sunrise or sunset. In almost every photo, the phrase “sun drenched” comes to mind. The way Sejkko renders light in these photos makes it appear as an actual substance, something that sinks into the pores of his subjects, changing them in a deep, molecular way. One thinks of pleasant, light-headed days at the beach.

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Many of the photos on this page belong to a series Sejkko titles “Lonely Houses.” The photos in this series simply feature a single, freestanding house in the center of the frame. The subjects range from gorgeous beachfront properties to charming bungalows to makeshift structures that one wouldn’t usually think of as design objects. However, Sejkko brings out the beauty and dignity of each of these structures. He doesn’t do this in the typical Instagram way — filtering the rough edges to oblivion — but by turning the sun up to full blast, so to speak.

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While they appear to be straightforward photos, the “Lonely Houses” pictures were actually deftly edited in order to, as Sejkko explains, “bring them as close as possible to the way my eyes see them.” These personal touches, while easy to overlook, give the photos a subtle, dreamy quality related to the artist’s interest in memory.

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Sejkko’s observational gifts may be related to his background as a scientist. Sejkko still works as a scientist, but he turned to the visual arts as part of a journey in self-exploration. Indeed, most of the houses featured in the first wave of the “Lonely Houses” series were taken in the artist’s native Portugal as part of the artist’s ongoing mission to define the meaning of “home.”

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“My ‘lonely houses’ started when I was very little, and realized there was a dichotomy between the feeling of “home” I had inside of me, and what I was perceiving outside, in the place where I was born,” wrote Sejkko in a description of his project. “Looking back into it all, I feel I was a child who, born in the tropics, seemed to carry memories from another home. A home of soft tones, and almost imperceptible, subtle sounds. The colors of my new home fascinated me, and at the same time, contrasted with the memory of home I carried inside me.”

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As the series continued, Sejkko started to take portraits of houses outside of Portugal, such as this charming Swedish bungalow. A traveling artist, Sejkko is able to evoke a sense of “home” anywhere.

Whether one chooses to view “Lonely Houses” as a love letter to false memories or as a celebration of traditional Portuguese architecture, the allure of Sejkko’s photography is impossible to deny.

Pat Finn Author: Pat Finn
Pat Finn is a high school English teacher and a freelance writer on art, architecture, and film. He believes, with Orwell, that "good prose is like a windowpane," but his study of architecture has shown him that a window is only as good as the landscape it looks out on. Pat is based in the New York metro area.
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