In 1940, four schoolboys and their dog found an unusual hole in the Montignac forest in southwestern France. The entrance to what soon became known as the caves of Lascaux, the "Sistine Chapel of the Stone Age". For four days, the cave remained a secret. One can imagine the excitement the boys must have felt during the four days the cave was their place. A place children rarely get or find, but usually have to create themselves. "In the house there is always a lack of space for children, always, in any house, even in castles" writes Marguerite Duras in The Material Life. "Children do not look at houses, they look at them no more than at the walls of flesh that enclose them when they cannot yet see, but they know them. It is when they leave the house that they look at it."
The modern home is usually created according to the principles of functionality. When you enter, you almost always already know what awaits you: kitchen, bathroom, living room, bedroom, children's room. Something is missing, for example hiding places. So the kids have to build a den.
Create their own place. The cave becomes the secret of the house. A place where the children can escape the adults, while the cave, as an enclosing, slightly too small space, marks the safety of returning to the shared past none of us remembers.
One might say that the attraction of the cave lies in an ambivalent desire both to escape from parents and to inhabit the inside of the mother's body. In this sense, the cave functions as what the psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott has called the potential space, the necessary intermediate space between the inner, psychic reality and the outer, shared world. By making a cave, the physical object world is used in a way that simultaneously marks unification and separation. "This is the paradox," writes Winnicott, "which I accept and have no intention of resolving."
— Rebecca Sparre Wandall, Psychologist