The Theme of Quest

The Use of Vietnamese Legends and Mythology

Back in 2016, the Quest creative team sat down and hatched a plan to reconnect their up and coming festival to its roots- their much-loved home of Vietnam. Quest was in its fourth year and gaining a strong following because it offered something totally different from any other event in the country at the time. To keep that connection to place and spark the imaginations of all who attended, the Quest themes became intertwined with the fascinating legends of Vietnamese mythology.

The first theme was especially significant, telling the tale of Son Tinh – the Quest site namesake – and Thuy Tinh. Through the stages, art and installations that create the Quest visual magic, Quest told the story of the battle of these two great gods who created the very landscape that Quest sits upon.

Quest connected with Scottish artist Alfie, who was part of the Hanoi-based art collective Mau Colour in 2016, to recreate the story in stunning detail. The imagery was used to promote the festival for months leading up to the event:

On the ground, the Thuy Tinh Stage embodied the Spirit of Water, with The Emperor presided over the Main Stage, overlooking the entire festival and his empire.

The following year, Quest took on the challenge of representing Vietnam’s four holy animals, the Tứ Linh. The Dragon / Long symbolises life, growth, the universe, wisdom and nobility; the Phoenix / Phượng symbolises prosperity, morality and elegance and the Qilin / Lân symbolizes luck and security. The Turtle / Quy is the most complex and commonly seen symbol and is combined with either a crane or a snake. The Turtle and Crane are the balance – the Ying and Yang – between sky and earth, femininity and masculinity, harmony and luck.

The artistic representations of these animals created by Hanoi-based artist Sam Mudroch were truly unique conceptions of these Vietnamese legends.

At the festival, a smoke-breathing dragon replaced the head of the Emperor Stage. A phoenix, envisaged by artist Lud Absolut made entirely of reclaimed pallet wood, became the sunrise, sunset stage. With its spherical shape, the Dome Stage represented the legendary turtle.

This year, we are telling the story of Than Tru Troi through the themes of sky and earth. The legend is rooted in the understanding of Yin and Yang in Vietnamese culture and describes the very beginning of the earth. It is a myth that is present in various forms in cultures all over the world

In the beginning, there was nothing in the universe except a formless chaos. This chaos coalesced into a cosmic egg for thousands of years. Within it, the perfectly opposed principles of Yin and Yang became balanced.

It is from this ‘egg’ that Than Tru Troi emerged, and split the world into two halves. There was the world above, which we can see as the sky, and the world below, which we can see as the earth, and Than Tru Troi existed between them. Over time he grew to a great height, further separating these two halves of the world.

For the creative teams at Quest, this incredible story contains mind-spinning amounts of inspiration to create a world of wonder at this year’s festival. Deep Space, the Moon and stars, towering giants and the earth itself may take the form of stages, performances, art and costume.

But, we’ve already taken you behind the scenes of one stage build this year, so you’ll have to wait and see what other marvels are created for Quest 2018!

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