Curatorial coup: Nairy Baghramian and Phyllida Barlow share a show at the Serpentine

It's a good idea, from time to time, to forget what art is. We vaguely know what it's meant to be. But imagine you didn't know, and then you came across it, and tried to work out from scratch what role it might have in our lives. There's something that lies on the floor by the entrance. It's a small object. It has the form of a plastic inflatable, with ridged seams, roughly the shape of a biscuit tin, or a small cushion, but not firmly inflated, so that its form is rather squashy. But clearly it isn't literally squashy. It is black, and polished, and solid. It must have been cast in some hard medium – hard rubber, in fact. Doorstopper is its name. Nairy Baghramian made it.

Dancing all the way to Moscow

If you think you’ve got what it takes to be the best, and you dream of visiting a place that could change your career, you could be a British Airways Great Briton

Pandora: 'Godfather' star Duvall to be Gilliam's Don

Maverick director Terry Gilliam's ongoing battle to get his big screen version of Don Quixote off the ground has proved one of the movie industry's more fraught sagas in recent years.

Book Of A Lifetime: Pedro Páramo, By Juan Rulfo

For me, reading Pedro Páramo is like opening a small mosaïque box, only to discover that it is empty, save for the whispers of those who had opened the box in the past. The novel is set in the post-revolutionary dustbowls of early 20th-century Mexico, when rapid industrialisation left hundreds of ghost villages scattered across the rural south. Urged by his dying mother to reclaim his patrimony, Juan Preciado arrives at Comala, and finds that things are not as they seem.

Pandora: Depp's trip back in time with Gilliam called off

He may boast one of the most prolific big-screen careers in recent history, but it seems that Johnny Depp has been forced to abandon his long-planned project with the former Monty Python star Terry Gilliam.

Protocols of the Elders of Sodom and other essays, By Tariq Ali

Tariq Ali momentarily puts his politics aside, to write of books, films and sticky wickets

Pandora: Esther wins her most important endorsement

Esther Rantzen may have the unyielding support of the 24-hour news brigade, but not everyone has been quite so easy to win over in her bid to stand as an independent MP.

Screen Talk: Gilliam tilts at windmills again

One project certainly getting everyone geed up is the prospect of Terry Gilliam resurrecting his ambitions to make a movie based on Cervantes's "Don Quixote". Gilliam has hooked up with Oscar-winning British producer Jeremy Thomas. Screenwriter Tony Grisoni's script revolves around a film-maker who is charmed into Quixote's eternal quest for his lady-love, becoming an unwitting Sancho Panza. The move is the latest twist in a movie-making saga almost as epic as Cervantes' 17th-Century classic. Nine years ago, the original shoot suffered a series of setbacks captured in the documentary "Lost In La Mancha", which went on to became a cult hit in its own right.

Howard Jacobson: Someone should make a final stand for humankind before it's too late

Those who say we misplace the threat of terror are committing us all to suicide

The Complete Guide To: Spanish journeys

Whether you crave a spiritual pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela or prefer to follow in Don Quixote's fictional footsteps, you can find your perfect route

London Philharmonic Orchestra/Nézet-Séguin, Royal Festival Hall, London

You generally know within seconds of the start of a performance if a conductor has what it takes to take us to that other place where senses are heightened. It was the performance of Ravel's La Valse at the start of Yannick Nézet-Séguin's first concert as principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic that will have convinced a lot of people of great things to come.

London Philharmonic Orchestra/ Nezet-Seguin, Royal Festival Hall

Conducting is a mystical business. You generally know within seconds of the start of a performance if he or she has what it takes to take an orchestra and an audience to that other place where senses are heightened and the air seems to move a little differently.

Kermit Love: Designer of Big Bird

With a background in designing costumes and marionettes for ballet productions, Kermit Love created for television a towering, iconic character that would achieve worldwide fame in a programme acclaimed for its educational qualities. The 8ft 2in Big Bird, with bright-yellow feathers, orange legs and big feet, is one of the mainstays of the American series Sesame Street, aimed at pre-school children and set to celebrate its 40th anniversary next year.

Christina Patterson: We are all following the gospel of recyling

In a wonderful short story, first published in 1939, the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges introduced the work of a minor French writer called Pierre Menard. In an extended passage of literary criticism, he contrasts the contemporary prose of Menard with that of Cervantes. While Cervantes, he says, indulges in "mere rhetorical praise of history," Menard's work, much "richer in illusion", explores ideas, about history and truth, which are "staggering". The texts he is comparing are, by the way, identical. The (fictional) Pierre Menard has sat down with Don Quixote and copied every word.

Lars and the Real Girl, (12A)

Shy young man brings home his ideal woman – and she's an anatomically correct plastic doll! The premise shrieks indie quirkiness, and the opportunities for smutty humour abound; but as it turns out, Lars and the Real Girl is a humane, and often sweet, study of the strain of growing up and having adult relationships. Why, at times it's almost plausible.

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A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried