Europe’s largest ethnic minority, the Roma struggle with poverty and marginalization—“gypsy” insults are just the start. This is especially true in Tirana, Albania, where Roma youth often panhandle on the streets and sleep in crowded settlements. So the city’s Dutch embassy, seconded by a Greek NGO, the Association for the Social Support of Youth, stepped in to help. Assistance took the form of a weekend project at the National Art Gallery of Albania. Working for a reduced fee, Collective Paper Aesthetics founder and creative director Noa Haim flew down from the Netherlands to lead young Roma in the design and construction of a pop-up installation.
First, the younger children constructed octahedral stools from precut sheets of laminated cardboard, likewise shipped in from the Netherlands. Teenagers then stacked the stools, secured to one another by slots in the cardboard, into a fort of sorts. Once it was complete, more than 250 visitors, among them the mayor of Tirana, the minister of culture of Albania, and the Dutch ambassador, came to the gallery to view the aptly titled Spaceship Heart.