Gerhardt‟s images do not belittle them ( the poor) and do not celebrate their existence but instead show an honest mirror reflection. He seems to capture a strange warmness about them.
The environments the people are photographed in represent remnants of their previous life which the viewers then relate to with a sense of nostalgia, reminding them that these people were once part of a functional society. The chapter that follows shows the dwellers of the Arlington rubbish tip in Port Elizabeth. They represent the last and lowest entry of the cycle of life. They are the extreme extension of poverty, literally scraping through society’s waste. The manmade open spaces of the third chapter of this book reinforces the theme of that continuous cycle of emptiness. This emptiness has a double meaning in that it can be read as the negative remains of what the space was once used for or in its silence, the past can be laid to rest. By documenting it, Gerhardt puts an end to the empty nothingness of the space, taking away its loneliness and adding a peaceful silence.
—Quoted from foreword in the book, Coro[nation]. Written by close friend and fine artist, Stephanie van Vuuren.