Ai Weiwei, Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995

Butter fingers… When Ai Weiwei smashed this Han dynasty urn on camera, the photographs became more valuable than the ancient vase. It was a defiant act of cultural recycling: out with the old and in with the new. Weiwei’s provocative works eventually got him placed under house arrest by the Chinese government in 2011. 140,000 people petitioned for his release; Tate Modern painted “Release Ai Weiwei” on their exterior; and Anish Kapoor cancelled his Beijing exhibition in a gesture of solidarity.