Hidden Message

Hidden Message is a message sent via Rilao’s traditional means and language. This artifact holds a message within which was sent after the introduction of the quarantine and communication control of 1919.

The message was sent by Pilu-Mana Rii to her son Matthia Wilkinson, who at the time of the quarantine was studying in Santiago (Chile). She sent the message to inform her son that his father, Steve Wilkinson, was suffering from the plague.

Steve Wilkinson came to Rilao in 1898 to work for ILOC at the office.

This is where he met Pilu-Mana Rii, a native, with whom he had a son: Matthia Wilkinson.

Unfortunately Steve was caught by the plague. His wife took care of him and refused to leave from his side. By doing so she was also likelyto be infected. Matthia’s parents’ house and his parents were infected.

Hoping to be able to communicate with her son, Pilu used a traditional way of communicating through which she bypassed the control on regular ways of communication which was limited. Specific objects were used instead of writing to communicate.

The tooth inside the shell (from Steve) represents the infection and the fact that there’s no way he’ll make it. The hair inside the shell, which is from a native Rilaoan, represents combined with the tooth that the owner of the hair takes care of the infected person but is also susceptible for the infection.

Pila is therefore warning her son to not come home, despite the desperate situation she and her husband find themselves in. In the shell there are symbols which represent the family. A snake for eternity and a tree for the parents.

Unfortunately the message never arrived at Matthia because soldiers of the league of nations shot the bird which carried the shell.

Date: 1919.

Exhibit 16 of 58 PreviousNext

Curated by five to six students of Amsterdam Dutch Film Academy.


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