Anna Karaulova – Rapid Eye Movement

Review by Douglas Stockdale •

Sleep. A period of time that is an opportunity to refresh oneself and then to start a new day. During that time asleep, we may also dream, perhaps something delightful occurs or this evolves into a frightening experience. Frequently what is recalled upon wakening is a series of odd and mysterious fragments that seem to be jumbled together. What I find fascinating about Anna Karaulova’s artist book Rapid Eye Movement is how uncannily it reflects my own dream-world experiences of random moments that are mashed together that really make little to no sense.

The book’s intricate and layered design are a beautiful physical representation of the exasperating complexity of dreams, although this same layering design creates a challenge to read (as well as re-photograph for this review). The pages are printed and then folded together that delightfully conceal her images. These pages have not been entirely trimmed which constricts how these are subsequently unfolded in an attempt to read, a wonderful metaphor for how difficult it can be for us to try to interrupt or understand our dreams. 

Another confounding aspect of her page design is than when the page is unfolded, there may be printing on the bottom side of the fold-out page, thus requiring a reader to flip the book over in an attempt to gain the “full picture”. Much like the topsy-turvy dreams we experience and the many times the seemingly and total illogic experience of what we try to recall. That one of the reverse pages is all about Secrets in which the type for the letters has small space breaks and is incomplete is brilliant.

There are incomplete images that bleed over the edges onto the following page, a wonderful representation for how incomplete dreams seem to continue or reoccur during the following night’s sleep, or return to haunt us days, weeks or months later. 

Another element of Karaulova’s mysterious artist book is the incorporation of hand crafting, such as the use of sewing and embroidery. She will sew a photograph, then re-photograph it to embellish her narrative, but then she adds actual embroidery on to her book’s page. The crafting mash-up of the photographed images adds another dimensionality that require the reader to run their hand over the page to determine which is the real embroidery from the ‘fake’. This illusion is about the false reality of dreams that while we are in this dream-state and unable to determine if the dream experience is a reality or not. One only needs to wake from a dream in a cold sweat to understand the potential implications.

One page is the reverse side of an embroidered sheet and the resulting patterning is a mash up of color and lines, a beautiful abstract image. This potential ‘text’ reads as nonsensical gibberish, another aspect of the crazy dreams that we find ourselves experiencing. Little to nothing makes sense as the world is upside down and running backwards. But only in our dreams.

This is brilliantly conceived, designed and is superbly executed, an artist book which totally represents our temporary while absurd dreaming world.


Rapid Eye Movement, Anna Karaulova
Artist:  Anna Karaulova, born and residing in Moscow, RU IG: @karaulich
Self-published, Moscow, RU, copyright 2020.
Introduction: Anna Karaulova
Text: Russian & English
Stiffcover, printed paperboard sleeve, hand bound (stab binding), hand stitching (embroidery) on some pages, machine sewn glassine pouch with souvenir thread, printing by Nemakulatura, Moscow, RU, signed and numbered limited edition of 70 copies.
Photobook Designer: Anastasia Suslova
Curator: Alla Mirovskaya


Articles & photographs published on PhotoBook Journal may not be reproduced without the permission of the PhotoBook Journal staff and the photographer(s).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Website Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: