'I visited the Longhua Temple in Shanghai to burn incense before Buddha. There I noticed many lay Buddhists who spent hours alone with the sculpture of Buddha, muttering prayers; they all seemed to have entered another state of mind, as though they were hypnotized. I was deeply moved by the power of the sculpture and the allure of such power, attracting people to burn incense and to pray. The temple floor was covered with ash which leaked from the giant incense burner. Seeing this image of ash conjured a feeling inside of me: it was a beautiful material and it moved me greatly. These ash remains speak to the fulfillment of millions of hopes, dreams and blessings. It was here that I finally discovered the ingredient I had been looking for to pave the way for new work.' (The artist quoted in Zhang Huan: Ash, exh. cat., London, 2007, p. 11).